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Richard Elwood Conner
Richard Elwood Conner passed away peacefully at Community Hospice and Palliative Care in Fernandina Beach on August 11, 2021.
He is survived by his loving wife of 44 years, Jeanne and nephew Mike Conner (Clare), niece Sandra Goodrich (Jerry), niece Tammy DiMatteo (Jeff), brother, Donald Murray (Gabrielle), and their families. He was predeceased by his father Richard Elwood Conner Sr., mother Marian Murray, step-father John Murray, brother, Robert Conner and nephew Scott Conner.
Rick was born on March 15, 1924 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and moved to Indianapolis with his family while still in grade school. In September, 1942 he volunteered for the Army Air Corps and flew his first mission over Europe as a bombardier-navigator in a B-26 bomber on November 5 of that year. This was followed by 74 more missions, including one on D-day when his squadron was selected to be the first to fly over Utah Beach one minute ahead of the invasion in order to take out German gun emplacements. He was honorably discharged in December, 1945 and later recalled for the Korean conflict. Following that, he served in the Air Force Reserves until retirement. During his military career he received a Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal with 14 clusters. In 2013 he was awarded the French Legion of Honor at a ceremony at the Utah Beach Museum in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, France.
Rick received his Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Wisconsin and a Doctorate in Public Administration from Nova University. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1956 and remained a member in good standing until his death. During his legal career he practiced mostly real estate law and also served as a special magistrate for a number of municipalities in south Florida. After his retirement in 2017 he and Jeanne moved full time to Amelia Island. Rick loved life on the island and quickly embraced all the cultural activities available. He very proudly served as the Grand Marshal of the 2020 Fernandina Beach Veterans Day Parade.
Rick had a passion for travel. He met Jeanne on a cruise and they enjoyed many years of adventures that included trips on all the continents except Antarctica – “too cold there,” he said! His favorites were to New Zealand and the Galapagos. He loved learning new things and met life with optimism, vigor and his unforgettable smile.
Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery and a memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on Sunday, August 22, 2021 at the pavilion at Dee Dee Bartels Boat Ramp in Fernandina Beach. He was a hero to many and memories of his long life will be cherished by family and friends forever.
Donations in his memory may be made to the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival in Fernandina Beach or to the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida.