William’s lifetime of support

The late William ‘Bill’ McConnell, (1940 – 2020), was a much-loved personality with a generous heart.

CERA is very grateful for both his kind bequest and his lasting legacy.


Eye-News emails are sent to
subscribers once a month

Share this article

Born in 1940, William McConnell grew up in the beautiful city of Bendigo, where some of the family still live.

By his late teens, the drive to help others brought him down to Melbourne to become a police cadet.

His keenness to join the force was one step amongst many in helping others. Though he left the force around 1959 through injury, he found a new focus in public service.

Working for the Public Trust Office (now known as State Trustees), his role revolved around defending the rights of others.

As a trust officer, he protected the assets of Victorians who were unable to look after their own affairs.

He dedicated his entire career to this very important work.

During this time, William would often donate to others. His late brother Jim Kavanagh showed a passion for philanthropy, which inspired Bill to continue the tradition.

Catherine, William’s partner, recalls that he often said: “If I ever won 20 million in lotto I know what I’d do with it. I’d set up a foundation straight away.”

A people person

Well-liked by everyone, William had a large circle of friends – and was, of course, beloved by his family.

The adored partner of Catherine, he was also a wonderful father to Kellie and Scott.

William was the much-loved ‘Papa’ to grandchildren Nathan, Aidan, Lachlan, Emily and Zahra.

His loss is also keenly felt across the community.

“He was very caring,” says Catherine.

William was so dear to so many, it was difficult when he died to only have 10 at his funeral.

So much so, the family is holding a large Celebration of his life in the coming weeks.

Ongoing support for eye research

In the early 1990s, William had a check-up with his eye specialist at St Vincent’s Hospital. In the waiting room, he spied a brochure for the Centre of Eye Research Australia (CERA).

Flipping through the pages sparked an instant interest in eye health. Bill learned about the importance of research for future generations.

Bill started donating straight away and soon became a long-term supporter of CERA.

“He was always interested in research and finding solutions to things,” Catherine says.

Aside from ongoing donations, William bequeathed a generous amount to CERA to continue vision research.

In fact, he donated to six separate charities. A quarter of his estate was distributed across a variety of causes.

Catherine shared the thoughts behind this generosity. She said he thought it important to pass on funds to organisations that really “could make use of it”.

Gifts in wills

CERA’s vision is a world free from vision loss and blindness.

For those affected by vision loss, the impact is profound. Our researchers can make a very real difference – but we cannot do this alone.

Please email us for more information about donating in tribute, gifts in wills or to learn more.

You can also call 1300 737 757 to have a confidential conversation with our donor relations adviser.

Learn more about leaving a gift in your will.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Newsletter Subscribe
Receive Appeals