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Orval Max Conner was born April 18, 1930, on the family homestead near Burwell Nebraska. He was the son of a rich legacy of pioneers who moved westward, to till the soil, raise and care for animals, and feed our world.
Born to Orval Merritt and Elsie Mattern Conner, Orval was the oldest of five boys. He attended one-room school until high school, when he moved the sixteen miles into town and worked for the grocer in exchange for room and board during high school years. His intellectual curiosity led him to leave his love for the land to pursue higher education at the University of Nebraska, where he earned bachelor and master’s degrees in education. He received his doctorate in education at Michigan State University.
He served our country as a lieutenant in the United States Army, stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia and later at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (82nd airborne division) and Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California.
On December 28th, 1952, Orval married Marlene Ruth Wall in Eagle, Nebraska. After the military service years, Orval and Marlene made their home in Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio, where Orval taught elementary school and worked as a principal, curriculum consultant, and an assistant superintendent in public schools. The final 30 years of his career were spent as a professor at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. The university years took him to Luxembourg as a visiting professor on several occasions.
He modeled putting friends and family first. Orval was a doting father to his two daughters, the beloved grandfather to four grandchildren and two great grandchildren, and a special uncle to many nieces and nephews. As a friend, he could be counted on to show up and care.
Orval was a member of Acacia fraternity and served as an advisor at Miami University. He was a Mason and held memberships in Lion’s Club and Kiwanis Club. He was a member of Elon Community Church, an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and a Stephen Minister. Orval enjoyed gardening as a lifelong passion.
Surviving are his wife Marlene, his daughter Gwen (Whiteman) and her husband Andy, and his daughter Lee Ann (Buck) and her husband Scott. He is survived by his grandchildren: Allison (Whiteman) and Gavin Taylor and their daughter Annalise, Andrew Whiteman, Ben and Katie Buck and their daughter Lily, and Evan Buck. And he is survived by one brother, Darrell Conner, and many nieces and nephews.
The family is grateful to the staff at Twin Lakes Moneta Springs, who cared for and loved Orval well during his last years. A memorial service is being planned. Memorial contributions may be made to Twin Lakes Moneta Springs Memory Care, Twin Lakes Retirement Community, Burlington, North Carolina.
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