Conner Lee John, 78, of Commerce, passed away after a brief illness early Monday morning,
February 1, 2021, in Greenville, Texas. He was born on December 9, 1942 in Livingston, Louisiana, the son of Robert Lee John and Virginia Kate Conner John. A gathering of family and friends will take place on Thursday, February 4, 2021 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at Fairlie Home Place, 6186 CR 4607 Commerce, Texas 75428. A private graveside service will take place on Friday at Rosemound Cemetery with Shannon Moreland officiating.
Conner was born in Livingston, Louisiana, but his family moved to Conroe, Texas, where he graduated high school in 1960. During his senior year, he was a member of the state champion baseball team, which was quite a memorable experience! Following high school, Conner attended East Texas State University, earning his BS in Agricultural Education, as well as his MS in Biology. He distinguished himself by being admitted to the Beta Beta Beta Honor Society and was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, as well. December 27, 1968 was a significant day in Conner’s life. That was the day he married the love of his life, Janet Harford, at a ceremony in Commerce, Texas. He was a lifelong member of the Methodist church. Conner taught at Greenville High School for two years before moving to Commerce High School as the Ag teacher. His education career spanned 33 years, from 1967 until his retirement in 1998. Each one of the hundreds of students who took an agriculture class from Conner has a story of how he influenced them. Through ag and FFA, Conner taught skills that not only achieved excellence in the show ring, but also carried into his students’ lives.
Conner was active in many professional associations including the Vocational Ag Teachers Association, the Texas Classroom Teachers Association and Commerce Classroom Teachers Association. In 1998, the City of Commerce proclaimed April 3, 1998 as “Conner John Day.” The Commerce Chamber of Commerce awarded Conner the Agriculturist of the Year award in 2000. In 2009, he was awarded the 2nd Annual Ivory Moore Most Influential Citizen of Commerce award. In 2012, he was awarded the Biology and Environmental Sciences, A&M Commerce Alumni Ambassador. ETSU awarded Conner the Department of Agricultural Science Award for supervising student teachers for 31 years. He was also awarded the Vocational Agriculture Teachers of Texas Distinguished Service Award for 31 years of service to the students of Texas.
Conner was a devoted teacher, proud of his students and their accomplishments in the classroom, show ring, and beyond. His legacy continues in those whose lives he touched in the classroom and in the show arena. Lessons of integrity, hard work and perseverance were taught every day in his classroom.
Following his highly successful teaching career, Conner raised Angus cattle and American Quarter Horses on the John Family Ranch, which he founded with his father in the early 1960s. The cow herd was the center of the operation, but over the years, Conner became passionate about horses. Do Jack, an own son of Two Eyed Jack, was his most prized horse. Conner taught for many years but was a lifetime rancher.
Known for his wit, big personality, and red-eared fiery streak, Conner loved his friends and family – and was a favorite on the dance floor! He will be missed by many.
Conner is survived by his wife of 52 years, Janet Ann; son, James Robert John and wife, Michela Ippolito of Toronto, Canada; daughter, Erin Kathleen Swinson and husband, Gaylen of Commerce; grandchildren, Payton, Lana and Josey Swinson and Martina and Matteo Ippolito John; sister, Virginia Tarver and husband, Don; sister-in-law Gena Vee John, and a brother-in-law, Jim Harford and wife, Rose; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, Robert Lee John and his mother, Virgie Kate Conner John, brothers, Preston, Robert and Harry John and a sister, Shirley John.
Serving as honorary pallbearers for Conner are Alvis Alderman, Jim Hudson, Ted Oats, Tim Spiva, Gaylen Swinson, Matteo Ippolito John, Payton Swinson and Bobby Ewell.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts be made to honor Conner to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 50, Memphis, TN 38101.
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