INDIANA TOWNSHIP, Pa., May 17 (UPI) -- John Edward Connelly of Pennsylvania, the self-made tycoon who founded the Gateway Clipper Fleet and promised millions to the needy, has died. He was 83.
Connelly died Saturday of congestive heart failure at his home in Indiana Township, Pa., the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sunday.
The newspaper said Connelly created riverboat dining cruises in Pennsylvania, New York and St. Louis, and pioneered riverboat gambling on the Mississippi River.
Connelly once owned the Sheraton Station Square Hotel and sought to bring casino gambling to Pittsburgh.
"I've been a winner all my life," Connelly told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1996. "I come from the school of 'done it,' not 'going to do it.' I believe in winning."
The newspaper said when Pope John Paul II proposed building a hotel to house cardinals during papal elections and for visiting clergy at other times, Connelly was asked by the Vatican to lead the global fundraising campaign.
"He always said he came into this world naked and he wanted to leave naked, and boy he tried his best," said Henry Gusky of Mt. Lebanon, his friend and lawyer since 1974. "He just kept on giving his money away."
Connelly is survived by a brother, a sister, one daughter, three sons, and 13 grandchildren.