Chairman emeritus of KC firm Labconco was pilot killed in plane crash in Missouri

John N. McConnell Jr., the chairman emeritus of Kansas City laboratory equipment company Labconco Corp., was the 80-year-old pilot killed earlier this week in a plane crash in rural Bates County, Missouri, the firm confirmed Thursday.

McConnell was the only person aboard the plane when it crashed Monday morning into a grain bin near Butler, Missouri. He lived in both Vero Beach, Florida, and Kansas City, according to Bates County Coroner Greg D. Mullinax.

The plane was headed from Vero Beach Regional Airport to New Century AirCenter in Olathe at the time of the crash, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware.

McConnell, who was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, graduated from Princeton University, where he majored in English Literature, according to a 2015 profile of him on Labconco’s website.

He joined the U.S. Navy in 1962 and attended Officer Candidate School and the Naval Justice School. After being discharged from the Navy in 1965, McConnell joined Illinois Toolworks as a sales representative calling on major equipment manufacturers like General Motors and General Electric, according to the profile.

In 1972, he joined the manufacturer Labconco as national sales manager, where he built a sales team from scratch. McConnell became president of the company in 1980. He continued on as chairman when Stephen Gound succeeded him as president in 2000.

“John’s intellect, passion and steadfast focus on our core values have been key drivers of our organizational growth and success,” Stephen Gound, Labconco chairman, said in a statement. “All Labconco associates are saddened by this tragic loss and John will be greatly missed.”

A memorial service and celebration of life is planned for 3 p.m. June 20 at the Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, according to a brief online obituary notification at Johnson County Funeral Chapel & Memorial Gardens. A full obituary was planned to be posted later on the website.

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Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.