Paul Harvey Conn, PhD

Paul Harvey Conn, PhD

Paul Conn, a leader in the fields of academics, politics and business died peacefully on February 5th, at his home at the age of 81.

Born in Brooklyn, New York on September 1st to parents Albert and Dora Conn, Paul and his older brother Arthur were raised in the Brownsville/East Flatbush section of Brooklyn. His family later moved to Queens, New York when he was a teenager.

Conn was intellectually curious and a high achiever from an early age. As a teenager in New York City, he was one of a the very few who tested well enough to attend the elite Stuyvesant High School. After high school he attended the City University of New York, Queens College earning a bachelor’s degree. He later attended Yale University where he received a doctorate in political science. Upon graduating, Conn became a professor of political science at Michigan State University where he taught for fifteen years. Beloved by his students, Conn went above and beyond the traditional professor role and formed strong mentoring relationships with many of his students, some of which lasted a lifetime.

Conn’s political savvy and knowledge of local Michigan politics led him to advise various politicians including United States Congressman Bob Carr, who introduced Conn to the then speaker of the house of representatives for the state of Michigan, Gary Owen. Conn went on to work for house speaker Owen as a senior aide spending several years advising him on policy and communications and playing a major role in the government of the state of Michigan. After his years of public service as an aide to the speaker of the house, Conn established Paul Conn and Associates a political consulting firm. Later, he and business partner Mitch Crank, founded “The Focus Group” which performed market research services for corporate clients in a wide array of industries including automotive, financial services and labor unions.

During his career and after retirement, Conn remained passionately dedicated to a diverse array of activities including the performing arts. He served on the board of directors of the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, a performing arts center of national prominence located on the campus of Michigan State University. Paul and his wife of almost sixty years, Carol could regularly be found in the audience of Wharton Center performances as it was one of their favorite things to do and they both were passionate supporters of the arts.

When younger, Paul spent a lot of time playing tennis and his love for the game continued for the rest of his life. He enjoyed watching and following tennis on TV. His sports interests also included being a hardcore Michigan State sports fan, especially basketball and football and he almost never missed watching a game, often with his younger son Michael.

He had many intellectual pursuits and hobbies. He was a big fan of the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle which he would complete every week so quickly his family could never believe it and were convinced he somehow cheated. He loved watching the show Jeopardy during which he would answer nearly every question correctly before the host even finished reading the clue. He was the unvanquished champion of many highly competitive family Boggle matches. He was a voracious reader devouring books his whole life, up until the time he passed. He read everything but always came back to his favorite genre, the murder mystery.

He and his wife Carol traveled the world together doing many long and exotic trips. Conn would write detailed diaries of his travels for the joy and amusement of his family.

Of all his various hobbies and interests, none stood out more than his love for cooking. He taught himself to cook as a young adult and went on to become much more than just a home chef. He cooked extravagant dishes like Beef Wellington, risotto or a soufflé for dinner parties he hosted. He baked the entire selection of deserts for his son David’s Bar Mitzvah. He was a true gourmet chef constantly aweing his family and friends with the amazing meals he put together. The biggest beneficiary of his prowess in the kitchen was wife Carol for whom he later in life took pride in cooking her dinner almost daily and spoiling her on the idea of eating anything else.

Beyond his diverse career, and different interests, what he loved the most was his family, a family that is extremely close and for which he was the center of it all. He is survived by his loving wife of almost sixty years, Carol, his sons David and Michael, his daughters-in-law, Robyn and Allison and his grandchildren Miles and Devon who will all miss him dearly but will remember and love him forever.

In lieu of flowers contributions in Paul’s memory can be made to the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

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22 Messages to “Paul Harvey Conn, PhD

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Karole White
February 7, 2024 at 1:12 pm

So sorry for the loss of your husband Paul. May God grant you piece and dry your tears.
Karole White

Janet Olszewski
February 7, 2024 at 3:35 pm


Dennis and I were so very sorry to read of Paul’s passing. He was a wonderful man. We send healing thoughts your way,

Joan Bauer
February 7, 2024 at 4:15 pm

Paul was a very special man and our community was so much better because he was part of it. My thoughts are with Carol and the family upon the loss of their husband, father and grandfather.

Arnold Weinfeld
February 7, 2024 at 5:21 pm

Carol, my heartfelt condolences to you, your sons and your family. As you know I had the wonderful fortune to have him as a political science professor and then get me my start in the House of Reps. Even as time and we both moved on I always considered him one of my mentors. May his memory be a blessing

Keith and Helen Ostien
February 7, 2024 at 5:57 pm

We are so deeply saddened by Paul’s passing. We will sorely miss the spirited conversations we four had together.

What a remarkable mensch Paul was.

Debra Gagliardi
February 8, 2024 at 9:14 am

Pat and I are saddened to hear of Paul’s passing. He will continue to live in our memories as a gracious, brilliant and caring friend. We are so sorry for your loss and wish you comfort in knowing he left such a legacy of friendship and love.

Adam Brown
February 9, 2024 at 1:06 pm

So many memories come flooding back. It seems like we were always at your house, or you at ours, when I was growing up. Paul used to make me laugh and when I got older & moved to Brooklyn, I saw him at my Brothers wedding weekend in Buffalo and I was cracking him up with tales of the orthodox world and the names of the stores & restaurants in Midwood made him laugh. But I also remember endless serious conversations between my Father and Paul about the state of the world. What a really great smart man. I was lucky to have known him. We all were.

Bob LaBrant
February 11, 2024 at 5:59 pm

Word of Paul’s passing just reached me here in Florida. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

Paul had a life well lived. I admired how he used his outstanding academic career and built upon it to impact public policy and politics in Michigan. He was a renaissance man with had so many varied interests, travels and talents. He will be remembered.

Dennis Muchmore
February 12, 2024 at 12:33 pm

He was a great friend.

Laura Baird
February 12, 2024 at 12:51 pm

Dear Carol,
Our condolences on Paul’s passing. It is wonderful reading about his interesting life.

Rick Wiener
February 12, 2024 at 12:51 pm

There is a big void all of our lives because of Paul’s death. He was a wonderful friend and an amazing presence. May his memory be a blessing.

Clark Harder
February 12, 2024 at 1:35 pm

Paul was one of my first bosses when I joined the Michigan House Democratic staff in 1985. Though we rarely crossed paths in recent years, I considered him a mentor and friend.

My condolences to Carol and all of the family.

Clark Harder
State Representative 1991-98

Bill Ballenger
February 12, 2024 at 2:09 pm

Paul was a major figure in Democratic politics in the state capital area, and beyond, for many years. It’s astounding that he had so many other talents and interests as well. How did he have time for it all? The man was disciplined, organized and focused. He will be greatly missed … Bill Ballenger

Michael W Ranville
February 12, 2024 at 3:12 pm

Carol: I don’t think Paul would have us stand by his grave and weep. The Paul I choose to remember would have us raise a glass of fine wine and toast his great sense of humor, his appreciation for culture and his unsurpassed facility for trivia.

Mike Ranville

Deb Muchmore
February 12, 2024 at 3:21 pm

Paul was always most kind to me and helped and mentored me early in my career. I am eternally grateful. He taught me a lot. Thinking of you, Carol.

Nan Casey
February 12, 2024 at 3:58 pm

Jim and I were saddened to read of Paul’s death. We enjoyed reading about his many accomplishments. We are sure he will be greatly missed- we seldom saw Paul without Carol at his side
Nan Casey

Katherine Cusick Massuch
February 12, 2024 at 4:07 pm

Sending condolences to you and your family Carol! May all of you find comfort knowing what a full life he enjoyed!

Linda Gobler
February 12, 2024 at 4:37 pm

Oh Carol, I am so sorry to learn of Paul’s passing. He was a gem and will be remembered fondly. Sending love your way.

February 12, 2024 at 5:21 pm

Paul was one of a kind. He contributed so much to promote honor and integrity in politics. Bright and cheerful, he always had thoughtful advice. I enjoyed many great conversations with him about campaign elections. He was a great strategic thinker and honorable man.
My heartfelt sympathies to Carol and his family from a Yooper and great admirer of his.

Tom Hoisington
February 12, 2024 at 5:46 pm

Carol: Paul was one of the first professors that I met at MSU and it was always special that we worked on many projects in and around the Capitol. A great person and friend.

Cynthia Wilbanks
February 12, 2024 at 7:39 pm

Carol: Roy and I are sorry to learn of Paul’s passing. The peace he deserves is now his. His was a life well lived and an accomplished professional in every enterprise he supported. Our sympathies to you and your family.

Jacqueline Holecek
February 13, 2024 at 2:44 pm

Sending heartfelt condolences to you, Carol, and family. Jackie and Don Holecek


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