In Memoriam: Carol A. O'Connor

Thursday, November 17, 2022 3:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

I regretfully write to inform you that Dr. Carol O'Connor, notable western history scholar and prominent WHA member, died on November 10, 2022, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was 76 years old. O'Connor was involved in the organization since the late 1980s and has participated in numerous conferences in addition to serving on WHA committees such as the Caughey and Malone award committees.

You can learn more about Dr. O'Connor's life and career in her obituary below.

Carol Ann O'Connor, 1946-2022

Carol Ann O’Connor notable historian of urban America and the North American West died in Tulsa, Oklahoma on November 10, 2022 of complications from Lewy body dementia. Born on February 14, 1946 in Evanston, Illinois, she was age 76 at her death. A 1967 graduate of Manhattanville College, O’Connor brought a lifelong interest in local and community studies to her professional career. As a graduate student at Yale where she completed her Ph. D. in 1976, O’Connor gravitated to the subject of her hometown and produced the book, A Sort of Utopia: Scarsdale, 1891-1981 published in 1983. During 25 years on the faculty at Utah State University, her interests shifted westward. Along with her husband and colleague, Clyde A. Milner II, and Martha A. Sandweiss who recently retired from Princeton University, O’Connor coedited the Oxford History of the American West (1994) and wrote the chapter “A Region of Cities.” That volume received international reviews and recognition as well as two prominent book awards. In collaboration with her husband, she also co-authored As Big as the West: The Pioneer Life of Granville Stuart published by Oxford University Press in 2009. At Utah State in 1999, students in campus government and the honors program invited her to present the 24th annual Last Lecture. She was the first woman to do so and took the occasion to explain her love of history and her devotion to teaching as well as her hope that her personal journey provide worthwhile insights for other women. In that spirit combined with her warm smile and bountiful humor, generations of undergrad and graduate students as well as faculty colleagues can attest to her generous support of their work.

In 2002, O’Connor became professor of history at Arkansas State University where she served as associate dean and then dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences before her retirement in 2012. She then moved in 2014 to Albuquerque, New Mexico and eventually in 2021 to Tulsa. Oklahoma. Her interest in the daily administration of a university will not surprise those who knew her as a graduate student. During the first year of coeducation at Yale College, O’Connor lived in Vanderbilt Hall as a freshman counselor followed by two years as a graduate resident in Saybrook College. She also had her 1977 wedding to Clyde Milner on the Yale campus in Connecticut Hall under the care of the New Haven Quaker meeting. Their daughter, Dr. Catherine Milner, a neonatologist in Tulsa, graduated from Guilford, a Quaker college in Greensboro, NC before beginning her medical studies at Oklahoma State University. Their son Charles Milner studied physics at Yale and then completed his master’s degree in computer science at the University of Pennsylvania. He presently is a manager and software engineer for YouTube. Carol O’Connor is survived by her husband; two brothers – John O’Connor of Alpharetta, Georgia and Brian O’Connor of Fairport, New York; two daughters-in-law – Dr. Megan Woslager, M.D. of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Dr. Ashley Tallevi, Ph.D. of Mamaroneck, New York; and two granddaughters – Madeleine Marie Milner and Caryl Ann Milner. Her parents Joseph and Veronica O’Connor predeceased her as did an older brother Terence O’Connor.

Contributions to honor Carol O’Connor are requested for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (see https://www.plannedparenthood.org) or to the Albuquerque Friends Meeting (Quakers) P.O. Box 25462, Albuquerque, NM 87125-5462. A memorial service at the Albuquerque Friends Meeting will be scheduled at a future date.

The WHA is located in the Department of History at the University of Kansas.

The WHA is grateful to KU's History Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their generous support!


Western History Association

University of Kansas | History Department

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Lawrence, KS 66045 | 785-864-0860

wha@westernhistory.org