Konopnicki told The Republic this spring that he contracted an auto-immune disease that eviscerated his liver within a matter of weeks. Since then, he had been searching for a liver transplant, a quest which eluded him.
Konopnicki, 67, had received hospice services at his Safford home, said longtime friend Ted Downing, who met Konopnicki when the two served together in the Legislature.
Downing early Wednesday evening said that he recently visited his friend with news about the "top two" primary, a measure to revamp Arizona’s primary-election system that is on the ballot this fall. The two were involved in early efforts to draft the measure.
Downing said he told Konopnicki about positive poll results, prompting a smile.
Konopnicki this summer had spoken against a legislative plan to offer an alternative ballot measure to compete with the top-two primary. The plan never materialized.
Konopnicki, a Republican, left the Legislature in January 2011 when term limits precluded him from seeking a fourth term.
Konopnicki represented eastern Arizona’s Legislative District 5, a sprawling area that touched seven counties and ran from the White Mountains to Safford.
Born in Michigan, Konopnicki’s parents moved to Yuma when their son was 5. He worked in education posts, from grade schools to community college to the University of Arizona, and later started WSK Managements Systems, which owns and operates nine McDonald’s restaurants and seven radio stations.
He is survived by his wife, Cathy, four children and numerous grandchildren.