Connie Speaker Birkenmeier


Connie Speaker Birkenmeier, 76, died unexpectedly Sept. 12, 2017, in Bar Harbor. She was born May 30, 1941, in Steubenville, Ohio, the daughter of the late Chauncey Speaker and Olivetta Blake.

Connie graduated from Jefferson Union High School in Richmond, Ohio, and Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. She pursued a master’s degree and dedicated 37 years to the Jackson Laboratory. Her work included investigating blood cells for early signs of a variety of cancers. She married her husband, the late, Edward H. Birkenmeier, in 1973. They first settled in Otter Creek and then Bar Harbor. Connie and Ed had their only child, Tristan, in 1986. She established and organized the annual Edward H. Birkenmeier Distinguished Lectureship in Genetics and Evolution in honor of her husband, who was a faculty member at the Jackson Laboratory until his death in 1996. After retiring, she continued to volunteer as a researcher at Jackson Lab until the day she died. Most recently, she was working on a project to develop blood-based biomarkers to detect the progression of lung cancer.

Connie’s presence in the lab and MDI community will be greatly missed. She enjoyed all aspects of life, including hosting dinner parties, getting involved with local politics and spending time in Acadia. A lifelong advocate for conservation and the environment, Connie cherished the natural world, and animals of all kinds. She adored Tristan, and looked after all of his friends as if they were her own.

Connie is survived by her son, Tristan Birkenmeier, and his wife, Kristin Birkenmeier, of Yarmouth; her brother Daniel Speaker and his wife, Barbara Hazencomb Speaker, of Steubenville, Ohio; and nephews and nieces Jason Speaker and wife, Alicia Speaker, and Kelly Speaker Leasure and husband, Todd Leasure, of Steubenville.

A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, at the Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609. Please dress casually, as this is what she would have wanted. Gifts in Connie’s memory can be made to the SPCA of Hancock County, 141 Bar Harbor Road, Trenton, ME 04605. Our family is grateful for the tremendous support during this difficult time. Arrangements in care of Jordan-Fernald, 1139, Main St., Mount Desert. Condolences may be expressed at

Know when to pay your respects.