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John Conlon's kindness impacted so many, including a grateful stranger

April 11, 2011 - Cory Giger
I am saddened to hear of the passing of community treasure John Conlon, a truly wonderful man who gave so much of himself to everyone and never asked for anything in return.

Many people knew John much better than I did, and they've all got their own wonderful stories and memories of him. I'd like to share one of my personal stories about him.

My father, Joe, moved here to live with my wife and me for his final few years until passing away in 2006. He had been in poor health for a long time and wasn't able to get out of the house much.

I wrote a column in 2003 on Christmas day to talk about how much my dad meant to me. A little more than a week later, my dad received a letter in the mail from John Conlon.

They had never met. In fact, I had only been around John a couple of times, but I had spoken to him by phone on several occasions. He was a wonderful local sports historian, and occasionally the need arose for me to pick his brain about some aspect of the community's sports history.

John, after seeing the story in the paper about my dad, wrote him a letter to say hello and to offer his hand in friendship. He wrote some very nice words about me and that my dad should be proud of me, and he told my dad that he must have been a great father.

John also told my dad that he could write or call him any time if he would ever like to talk. It was such a wonderful gesture from a total stranger, and I know how much it meant to my father, who knew almost no one in town outside of my wife's family.

My dad wrote John back, and they spoke once on the phone. It wasn't much, and even though my dad preferred keeping to himself, I know how much he appreciated John's kindness.

I know John impacted so many people's lives in bigger ways, but with such a small gesture, he impacted a stranger in a big way. I was able to tell John how much my dad appreciated it during a conversation sometime later, but I'm not sure I ever fully expressed to him how much it meant to me that he took the time to reach out and befriend my dad.

We receive recognition in life for the big things we accomplish, but it's the little things that most people remember us for. From all I know about him, John Conlon was a great man who did a lot of little things for so many people, and that is why he is so beloved.

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