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The Columbus Blue Jackets – “John H. McConnell” – JHM(SLE)


John H. McConnell: From Humble Beginnings to Steel Magnate and Hockey Visionary

John H. McConnell’s story is a quintessential tale of the American dream, characterized by hard work, determination, and an unwavering commitment to giving back. Born on March 10, 1923, in Pughtown, West Virginia, McConnell grew up in a modest household during the Great Depression. His early years were marked by the challenges and hardships that defined rural life in that era, but these experiences also instilled in him the values of perseverance and resilience.

After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, McConnell returned home with a renewed sense of purpose. He ventured into the steel industry, starting with virtually no capital. In 1955, with a $600 loan secured by his car, McConnell founded Worthington Industries in Columbus, Ohio. His business acumen and relentless drive turned this small investment into a multibillion-dollar steel-processing empire. Worthington Industries became a leader in its field, known for its innovation, quality, and strong corporate culture.

McConnell’s success in business, however, was only one facet of his remarkable life. His vision extended far beyond the realm of steel. In the mid-1990s, he identified an opportunity to bring a major league hockey franchise to Columbus, Ohio. At the time, the idea of establishing an NHL team in Columbus was met with skepticism. The city lacked a strong hockey tradition, and the financial viability of such an endeavor was uncertain. Yet, McConnell saw potential where others did not.

In 1997, McConnell played a crucial role in securing the Columbus Blue Jackets as an NHL expansion team. His leadership and financial backing were instrumental in the franchise’s establishment. McConnell believed that the Blue Jackets could serve as a unifying force for the city, bringing people together and fostering a sense of community pride. His vision proved accurate as the Blue Jackets quickly became a beloved part of Columbus’s cultural fabric.

McConnell’s contributions extended beyond the world of sports. He was a dedicated philanthropist, with a particular focus on healthcare. One of his most notable acts of generosity was his support for Riverside Methodist Hospital’s heart center. Having undergone heart surgery there himself, McConnell was deeply committed to improving cardiac care in his community. His substantial donations helped fund state-of-the-art facilities and advanced medical research, ensuring that countless patients received top-tier care.

Throughout his life, McConnell was guided by a profound philosophy: “You can never pay back; you can only pay forward.” This belief underpinned his philanthropic efforts and his approach to business and community service. McConnell understood that the benefits he enjoyed were the result of others’ generosity and hard work, and he felt a deep responsibility to extend the same opportunities to future generations.

Family was at the heart of everything McConnell did. He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and he instilled in his family the same values that had guided his own life. McConnell’s legacy is not only evident in his business achievements and philanthropic endeavors but also in the strong, close-knit family he nurtured. His children and grandchildren have carried forward his commitment to service and community, ensuring that the McConnell name remains synonymous with generosity and integrity.

In recognition of his extraordinary contributions, Encore Kicks L.L.C. decided to honor John H. McConnell with a special homage. Known for celebrating influential figures, Encore Kicks L.L.C. created a collection that pays tribute to McConnell’s life and legacy. This honor is a testament to the profound impact McConnell had on his community, his industry, and the world of sports.

John H. McConnell’s life story is a powerful reminder of what can be achieved through hard work, vision, and a commitment to giving back. From his humble beginnings in West Virginia to becoming a steel magnate and a pioneer in bringing major league hockey to Columbus, McConnell’s legacy is one of resilience, generosity, and lasting impact. His philosophy of paying it forward continues to inspire, ensuring that his contributions will be felt for generations to come.


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