Daniel Conron

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Obituary of Daniel Conron

Former fire commissioner, yachtsman dead at 82

Daniel Belden Conron, a civic leader and community volunteer in New Canaan during more than 60 years of residence here, died Sunday, March 15, in Wilton with his sons and daughters at his bedside. He was 82 years old.

A retired sales management executive, Mr. Conron was an avid ocean sailor who had made several trans-Atlantic voyages and his many civic roles in New Canaan included 10 years as chairman of the Town Fire Commission.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 2, at the Congregational Church of New Canaan, 23 Park Street. Interment will be private.

Mr. Conron is survived by three daughters, Dana W. Conron of Oudkarspel, The Netherlands, Dale Conron Ahearn of Ridgefield and Margery Suzanne Conron of New Canaan; three sons, Daniel B. Conron, Jr., of Morris, William P. Conron of New Canaan and Robert C. Conron of Winchester, Mass.; a sister, Carol C. Wilkes of Manchester, Vt., and 12 grandchildren, Matthew S. Ahearn, Abigail Ahearn Riley, Ryan Ahearn, Kelly Conron, Kaitlin Conron, Daniel B. Conron, III, Bonnie Schoenmakers, Faith Grabarz, Kelcey McGeown-Conron, Ryan McGeown-Conron, Carolyn E. Conron and Mary Katherine Conron.

In addition to his wife and parents, Mr. Conron was predeceased by a sister, Christine Slagle, and a brother, William Conron.

Mr. Conron was born on October 31, 1926, in Stamford, son of the late William and Christine Jansen Conron, and moved to New Canaan after his marriage to Margery Edith Van Steeden.

After graduation from Choate School in Wallingford, he received degrees in business administration and management, mechanical engineering and naval engineering and sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and continued active in alumni affairs at both. Later he also received a graduate degree in business administration at Columbia University.

Mr. Conron joined Pitney Bowes, Inc., a business machines manufacturer in Stamford, in 1954 and remained there for more than 40 years, rising through several sales and marketing management positions.

His love for the sea began early when he and a brother, Bill, bought a 17-foot Crosby Cat Boat which they sailed around Stamford harbor. It developed further when he served in the Navy during World War 2 and, in 1950, he convinced his wife that they should buy a boat instead of a house and they called their sloop “Li’l Albert,” his favorite nickname for Mrs. Conron.

Because of his knowledge of navigation, he often was recruited to join the crews of other ocean-voyagers on journeys around the globe. He was in nine Newport to Bermuda yacht races, sailing at times aboard the famed “Cotton Blossom” owned by Walter Wheeler, chairman of the board at Pitney Bowes. On one of the more harrowing races, 1964, a competing boat, “Doubloon,” lost her rigging and tumbled over in hurricane winds off the Florida and Carolina coasts. Mr. and Mrs. Conron sailed home aboard the Cotton Blossom in those high seas and she liked to remind him that she was the only one on the boat who didn’t get seasick.

Mr. Conron also competed in the Newport to Annapolis races several times, as well in many of the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club events.

He sailed in the Adriatic Sea off Yugoslavia, the Canary Islands, the Azores and Barbardos. Trips took him through the Panama Canal and up and down the East and West coasts and his wife joined him on some journeys, serving as cook for the crews.

During summers, Mr. and Mrs. Conron and their six children often cruised through the Northeast and Nova Scotia and he told friends that with eight Conrons aboard he had to run a pretty tight ship. He named the boat “Freyja,” which, he explained to his family was the name of the Norwegian goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Years later, his family came to suspect that he had made up the fertility part of that name although a sign in the driveway of the family home on Myanos Road identified the property as “Fertility Hill.”

Friends said he was a cheerful, gregarious man with an unfailing sense of humor. He was always quick to laugh and he was known for his devotion to his family, to sailing and to his community.

Mr. Conron was a member of the Cruising Club of America and for 15 years was the editor of the new members section of its newsletter. He also belonged to the Ocean Cruising Club and the Off Soundings Club and, as a member and past commodore of the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club, he developed youth sailing programs there.

For more than 30 years, he played Santa Claus at children’s parties at the Saugatuck Yacht Club, arriving on a dinghy in the frosty weather, bringing toys and sometimes accompanied by his own children dressed as elves.

Mr. Conron’s athleticism didn’t stop at sailing. In the first post-war Olympics, 1948, he was with the Rensselaer lacrosse team in a demonstration game against a British squad in London’s Wembley Stadium.

In New Canaan, his activities in town were as varied as his ocean voyages. He sponsored the first Walter Schalk dance school, now a community tradition, in 1957 at the Ponus Ridge Chapel and Community House. He was a former president of the Ponus Ridge Association and helped arrange the neighborhood parties there on holidays. Historical records show that he and Mrs. Conron began serving the Association as officers and supporters in 1951.

Mr. and Mrs. Conron also were on the original planning and building committees of the New Canaan Community Nursery School in Kiwanis Park.

He also was a founder and early leader of the Young Republican Club in New Canaan during the 1950s and later was on the party’s town committee. From 1991 through 1997, he was chairman of the Fire Commission while also serving on the board of directors of the United Way of New Canaan.

He aided fund-raising efforts for the United Way and for the YMCA, which he also served on the building committee and board of directors, and was active in the AmeriCares HomeFront program, helping to rehabilitate homes of people physically or financially unable to do it themselves.

As a long-time member of the Senior Men’s Club, he had been a mentor to New Canaan school children and he served on capital fund committees of Stamford Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital in Stamford and on the board of directors of the Woodland Cemetery Association, also in Stamford. For 10 years (1959-69) he was on the board of deacons, including a term as chairman, of the New Canaan Congregational Church.

Two years ago, Mr. Conron’s many community roles were recognized when the Volunteer Center of New Canaan presented him with its annual award for outstanding service.

Contributions in memory of Mr. Conron may be made to the United Way of New Canaan, Inc., 28 Vitti Street, P.O. Box 1738, New Canaan, CT 06840; New Canaan Chapter of the American Red Cross, 51 Main Street, New Canaan, CT 096840, Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club, Youth Committee Sailing Program, 6 Great Marsh Road, Westport, CT 06880, or to a charity of one’s choice. Condolences can be offered online at www.hoytfuneralhome.com.

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