Roger William Conner, 84, a longtime Oak Park resident, died in his home on May 22, 2021 due to complications from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), a rare degenerative neurological condition. The only child of Grace and William Conner, he was born and raised in Evanston, where he attended Northwestern University, earned his bachelor’s degree in English, and met Marsda (née Mead), who would become his wife of 63 years.
After completing his master’s degree at Harvard, he went on to teach English as a Second Language at “Loop” City College (now Harold Washington) until he retired. He recognized it as his great good fortune to spend nearly 50 years working at a profession he truly loved, sharing his passion for language, while serving the educational needs of young immigrants from all over the globe.
Though a teacher by trade, he remained a lifelong student of the world, pursuing an astonishing range of interests and hobbies. He was an avid photographer, an actor in community productions at the Beverly Arts Center, a singer with the Lyric Opera, a subscriber to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a tech fanatic and founding member of his school’s “Mac Group.” A nature enthusiast, he spent summers camping in Colorado in his early years, biking along the Salt Creek Trail and frequenting Morton Arboretum in later life. But more than teacher or scholar, actor or audiophile, cyclist or outdoorsman, he was first and foremost a devoted father with a ready sense of humor, and he will be remembered as such by his five surviving children. He and Marsda were utterly committed to their family, and their tireless generosity and selfless support over the decades was an abiding gift that the lucky recipients can only endeavor to pay forward.
Roger was predeceased by his wife, two sons, and one granddaughter. His life was celebrated with a small private memorial at Morton Arboretum in June and his passing will be formally commemorated with an open service at Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park on Friday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m.