John Willis Conner
DOVER-FOXCROFT, ME AND DICKSON, TN – John Willis Conner, born January 21, 1931, the son of Everett H. Conner and Minnie A. (Buzzell) Conner, passed away at the age of 86 on September 14, 2017 in Dickson, TN due to complications after surgery for a ruptured appendix.
John grew up in Guilford, ME where he was diagnosed with Polio in 1935. In 1936, he was admitted to the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in Springfield, MA where he remained for inpatient/outpatient treatment through 1947. He attended Elementary School at the Berkshire School for Handicapped Children in Pittsfield, MA from 1937-1943. He returned home to Maine for most of 1944 where he continued school, graduated from Foxcroft Academy in 1951 and received a B.S. from Husson College in 1961. John also attended the University of Vermont on a National Science Foundation grant in mathematics for four summers from 1967-1970.
His treatment for Polio included three surgeries on his hand and foot, three spine fusions and much physical therapy. As a result, he regained the use of his legs and right hand by 1937. These procedures enabled him to lead a very active and full life. As John often proclaimed, “I do all the things others do, JUST A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY.” Accepting his handicap, he never quit or gave up! He enjoyed wilderness fishing, camping, hiking, hunting and woodworking. After retirement, he especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren, proudly teaching them the ways of Maine life. In his earlier years after college, he climbed to the summit of Mt. Katahdin, an accomplishment he was very proud of, among others, including the home he built in Dover-Foxcroft in 1976 with the help of his children, brother “Hoppy” and other family members living in Maine, as well as designing the original logo for Pine Tree Camp for Disabled Children as a camper there for several summers along North Pond.
He was a 60 year Mason of Columbia-Doric lodge in Greenville, a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason and member of Anah Temple Shrine. He worked for six years in construction at Great Northern Paper earning enough to enter college in 1957. He taught high school Mathematics for 19 years at New York Military Academy in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY, visiting Maine each summer. He returned to Maine with his family in 1980 and taught Mathematics and coached Track & Field and Cross Country at Piscataquis Community High School until his retirement in 1994. He is survived by his son SGM (U.S. Army, ret) John D. Conner and his wife Lynn of Dickson, TN, his daughter Victoria Conner of Bar Harbor, ME, his brothers Richard (wife Shirley) of Lake Wales, FL, Omar (wife Lynda) of Idaho, Riley of Michigan, his sister Barbara Decker of Colorado, his grand children Jeremy Conner (SSG U.S. Army), Zachary Conner (PO2 U.S. Navy) and Shelby Conner (Corpsman U.S. Navy), Jamie Deese, Linda Scholes, and his great grandchildren Saige and Davin Conner, Sadie Deese and Hudson, Paisley and Benson Scholes. He was predeceased by his sister, Beatrice Brashear. He was married to the former Josephine S. Howard (deceased 2004) of Montoursville, PA in 1965 in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY.
A memorial with Masonic services was held in Dickson, TN on September 19th with final hometown memorial services to be held in Dover-Foxcroft on Tuesday, October 10th at The Mill Café from 6:30p – 8:30p, located at 5 E. Main Street. Flowers may be sent to The Mill for the day of service, or in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shriner’s Hospitals for Children or Pine Tree Society for Pine Tree Camp of Maine. For additional information regarding the hometown service, burial and donations, please contact Victoria Conner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 801-9302.