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Class Notes: Tribute

Ray MacConnell: The ‘Grown-up’ We Needed
archival photograph of campus times staff

CAMPUS KIDS: MacConnell (with paper) celebrated his 50th birthday with some of “his kids” from the CT—(clockwise from MacConnell’s right) Steve Bradt ’96, Jonathan Epstein ’93, Seth Krostich ’98, Rachel Dickler Coker ’96, Joshua Rovner ’97, and Allegra Boverman ’96. Photogrpah: University Libraries/Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation

Uncle Ray’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ray MacConnell was celebrated among the Campus Times staff and other student organizations for lifting the spirits of those with whom he worked.

He was particularly known for providing baked goods as students worked to finish projects on deadline. Here is his recipe for chocolate chip cookies that he shared with Rachel Dickler Coker ’96 and other CT-ers over the years.


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter-flavored Crisco
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts


Preheat oven to 375° F.

Cream the living daylights out of the brown sugar and Crisco. Even 10 minutes—that is the secret. Cream, cream, cream. Throw the other ingredients in after creaming. Bake 9–11 minutes or until golden brown.

Ray MacConnell was an honorary uncle to all of us who worked at Rochester’s student newspaper. Though we boasted that we didn’t have a faculty advisor, Ray was always nearby, a grown-up we could go to when we needed advice or encouragement.

He’d take you to the airport if you needed a ride and even make you a special dessert on your birthday. (Almost all of us picked “dirt cake,” a concoction featuring pudding and a layer of crushed Oreos.)

Ray, the University’s graphic arts manager for decades, died last November.

He had a small office just down the hall from the Common Market in the basement of Wilson Commons. It opened into the Campus Times office, which is where I met Ray in 1992.

He never married or had children, but Ray delighted in watching CT-ers grow up and have families of their own. Alumni baby photos were pinned to the bulletin board in his office.

Ray also ran a small antiques and floral business. One of his biggest customers was the University, and he was proud to have designed the flowers for Eastman Quad commencement ceremony for many years.

Dozens of alumni returned to Rochester to celebrate Ray’s 50th birthday in 1997. During the following years, I saw him in Cleveland, Detroit, and Washington, DC, as my classmates got married. In 2000, he baked a special batch of chocolate chip cookies that we served at my own wedding.

As I looked back at photos from those receptions recently, I noticed that Ray is the only person over age 30 in the photos of our Rochester friends. We stayed close to him even as our connections with faculty mentors faded.

Ray grew up in the Rochester suburb of Bergen, and he never really left.

He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1969 and lived in his childhood home until shortly before his death. Following his retirement in 2009, he served as the village historian, writing vignettes for a monthly newsletter about his memories of the community.

During those years, the tone of our conversations softened. While he had always (gently) teased me about my fashion sense or working too many hours, Ray began to express how much “his kids” from the CT meant to him.

In his last note to me, Ray wrote, “You were and are precious to me. Continue to be your happy, bright self.” It was just like him to leave me with something sweet. I think I’ll keep the card next to his cookie recipe.

—Rachel Dickler Coker ’96

Coker served as editor-in-chief of the Campus Times in 1994. She’s director of research advancement at Binghamton University.