Harvey Wester Conner
Service Information: Viewing, Friday, June 8 at McKenzie Road Baptist Church, 215 McKenzie Road SW, Olympia from 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Service, 1:00 p.m. followed by a potluck lunch.
Viewing, Friday, June 8 at McKenzie Road Baptist Church, 215 McKenzie Road SW, Olympia from 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Service, 1:00 p.m. followed by a potluck lunch.
A memorial fund is being established in the name of Harvey Wester Conner for the benefit of ongoing needs at the McKenzie Road Baptist Church, Harvey's home church. It is intended that this be a perpetual fund. It is being established through the NW Baptist Foundation and should become active within 30-60 days. If you are interested in being notified with additional details when the fund is ready to receive donations, please email email@example.com and include "Harvey Conner Memorial Fund" in the subject line. Alternatively, you may contact the McKenzie Road Baptist Church at 360-866-0374. Thank you!
Harvey Wester Conner made a difference in many lives and was loved by many, many people. He also had the gift of music – playing, singing, listening, and talking about it. He was a dedicated, lifelong Southern Baptist and a faithful member of the McKenzie Road Baptist Church in Olympia, Washington. His death on June 4, 2012 did not dampen the love that has always surrounded Harvey – instead, it has blossomed like a flower!
Harvey was born in Marianna, Florida on June 8, 1960 to Wyolene Wester Conner and David Judson Conner, Sr. His ancestral home is Grand Ridge, Florida, where he will be interred in the Carpenter Cemetery with many members of his family, including his mother, his brother David Jr., his grandmother Stella Strickland Wester, and his grandfather Harvey Wester. He is survived by his sister Connee Ann Bush and his niece Lora Nicole Boehlke, both of San Jose, California. He is also survived by aunts, uncles and cousins in Florida and North Carolina.
Harvey grew up in Wilmington, Illinois and Childersburg, Alabama. In his adulthood, Harvey lived in Beverly Massachusetts, Tallahassee Florida, Stockton California, and Olympia Washington. He has belonged to the Fellowship Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Trinity Baptist Church in Stockton, and McKenzie Road Baptist Church in Olympia, where he was an active member at the time of his demise. During the last year, Harvey was a volunteer at the Olympia Food Co-op and the Thurston County Food Bank. Harvey had just learned he had gotten a job in the Home & Garden department at the Olympia Home Depot.
Harvey’s lifelong love of music was evident by the age of five, when he began playing the piano by ear. In his early teens, he began collecting 45 RPM records featuring 50s and 60s pop artists. By the time he graduated from Walker Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree, he had studied music theory, music history, church music, choral, ensemble, band, and more. Harvey’s collection of 45s now numbers in the thousands. Harvey knew EVERYTHING about every one of those records! Harvey broke into song in virtually any setting including church, work, family gatherings, and Karaoke clubs. He always raised an eyebrow or two when he’d start, but by the time he got his pipes going, he had his audience in awe with his prodigy.
Harvey also appreciated good food. This no doubt started around the table at his grandmother’s in Grand Ridge. Every Sunday, family and friends from miles around would gather to enjoy a traditional meal that would include scores of items and last all afternoon, with naps between helpings. Harvey never shied away from variety. It was hard to say that Harvey had a favorite, but (as a surprise to many) he did have two items he would not eat – lima beans and ham! When he would return from out of town trips to visit his sister, aunts and uncles, and friends, he would describe the details of his trip according to each meal he enjoyed – from appetizer through dessert!
Harvey loved people. Everyone who knew Harvey would agree that he could be a handful. Harvey had an amazing vocabulary, the gift of gab, and a memory that kept everyone honest! Even under the most trying circumstances, Harvey never had a mean thing to say to anyone. He was quick to give a compliment and saw the best in everyone. Harvey’s physical absence will leave a void in many, many lives; but to a person, his family, friends and co-workers would all say they were lifted up by his spirit and blessed to have had Harvey in their lives. While Harvey is now with his maker, this part of Harvey will stay with us forever.
THAT HE'D WANT SHARED WITH HIS MANY FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
by Jeremy Pawloski, staff writer
The Olympian, published June 06, 2012
A 51-year-old volunteer at the east-side Olympia Food Co-op who broke into song at the “drop of a hat” died Monday, leaving a void in the hearts of all whose lives he touched, friends, family and co-workers said.
Harvey Conner, who had volunteered at the co-op for a little over a year, died from injuries he suffered when he was struck by a car while crossing Pacific Avenue after work on May 24. He never regained consciousness and died at “high noon” Monday at Providence St. Peter Hospital, his sister, Connee Bush, said.
Benjamin Stewart, a co-op employee who worked with Conner, said he will miss the “daily history lesson” Conner would give him about music. Conner had an encyclopedic knowledge of classic rock music, including the Beatles, and loved to talk about whatever music that happened to be playing on the radio during the work day, he said.
Conner was a tireless worker, and volunteered at the Thurston County Food Bank in addition to the co-op, Stewart said. Co-op volunteer coordinator Alejandro Rugarcia added that Conner was always happy “singing, talking to customers” as he stocked the shelves.
“It’s kind of a really difficult day to come to work, because today I would normally see him,” Stewart said. “He was community-service oriented. He loved helping people.”
Connee Bush and her husband, Bob Bush, who were in Olympia on Wednesday to make Conner’s funeral arrangements, said Conner was developmentally disabled. However, he never let his disability get in the way of achievement, whether it was making friends, finding employment, learning to play five musical instruments or earning an associate’s degree after high school, they said. Connee Bush said that her brother played piano at her wedding reception. “If you met him and spent thirty seconds with him, he was your friend,” Bob Bush said. “I never saw him say anything mean or nasty to anyone, ever.”
Connee Bush said her brother will be buried in his favorite baby-blue tuxedo, in a baby-blue coffin. Services will be at the McKenzie Road Baptist Church Friday at 1 p.m., she said, and a public viewing will be held from noon to 1 p.m., she said. A potluck will be held immediately after the service, and Connee Bush said anyone who knew Harvey is invited to attend.
“He loved to be with people,” Connee Bush said. “The co-op and the food bank are his places.” On Wednesday, co-op employees had put up pictures of Conner at each cash register, along with a black ribbon and donation jars to help raise money to help Conner’s family pay for medical bills and funeral expenses.
Rugarcia said he had worked with Conner on May 24 before the accident, and he was shocked to learn about what had happened when he arrived for work the next day. “Many of my co-workers are in grief,” Rugarcia said.
Conner had lived in Olympia about 10 years, his family said.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
This week I experienced another example of having to move on. A very difficult part of life is facing the fact that we are not going to live forever and sometimes the end is sudden and tragic.
A number of years ago I was introduced to a very special friend, Harvey. He is the brother in law of a great friend. I first met Harvey in Olympia, Washington. At the time I was on my first year as a Board Member for Morningside (www.morningsideservices.com) a non-profit organization that provides assistance to physically and mentally handicap adults. Harvey was a client off and on and had a very interesting reputation with the organization; a good reputation, one of respect and concern for his privacy. Harvey usually was not too far behind in moving with his family to wherever they were going. His sister, his niece and his brother in law have been his care takers, making sure that he always had a roof over his head and food in his stomach. Speaking of food Harvey always let you know that food, music and church were his most important components of life. He never turned down an invitation to his favorite local buffet.
When Harvey moved to Stockton CA, to join his family, I visited his apartment. I was introduced to his second passion, music. Harvey had a record collection of thousands of 33's, 45's, and 78's. He knew everyone of the songs, the albums and the singers or bands on everyone of the records, and in some cases he could sing and or play the song for you. He loved karaoke; he was often heard practicing in his apartment. He visited the local record establishments in Stockton looking for music he did not have, he was never that successful, as his collection typically out did most anyone’s. Gospel Music became Harvey's number one passion.
The last move for Harvey was back to Olympia, WA. It is interesting how life has its connections. After a number of months, his family had a new opportunity outside the area, but felt Harvey was well connected in Olympia with his friends, church and some work relationships and so this time Harvey was not to move. They began to look for a spot to ensure Harvey a comfortable place to live that also included some care. My wife and I knew of a family that had built a place where their son was staying. My wife, when on a mission, is diligent, and she approached the family and sure enough they had a spot for Harvey. It was a great spot with built in friends, a care taker that provided the "mom" needs and the independence that Harvey always wanted. His family would visit Olympia at least once a month to make sure he was doing ok and to discuss any needs. He was well taken care of.
Harvey was always looking for interesting job opportunities. He worked a few hours a week at the Olympia Co-op and at the Food Bank, where he was "in-charge" of bagging and roller carts, and talking to customers. He had, in just the past few weeks, secured a job at Home Depot; oh he was so excited about going to work at Home Depot.
I have to tell you that I was on the phone with Harvey's brother in law last Thursday and we happen to get into a conversation concerning Harvey. The very next day I received a very frantic call, Harvey had been hit by a car in Olympia and was in surgery. The outlook was not good.
On Monday of this week I had a chance to visit Harvey in his hospital room. He was unconscious, and had been so since the accident. Harvey died the next day at high noon, three days short of his 52 birthday.
He was and will continue to be one of the most unique individuals that I have ever encountered. It has been my privilege to know him and to call him my friend.
His family now has the responsibility to MOVE ON. Harvey would insist. Life is so demanding, I read this very interesting statement from the Dalai Lama.....
“Every one of us is getting older, which is a natural process. Time is constantly moving on, second by second. Nothing can stop it, but what we can do is use our time properly; that is in our hands. Whether we believe in a spiritual tradition or not, we need to use our time meaningfully. If over days, weeks, months and years, we have used our time in a meaningful way – when our last day comes, we'll be happy, we'll have no regrets.”
I’m sure Harvey has no regrets!
Please leave YOUR memories of Harvey or condolences for the family in the Guestbook below.