Passages: John Conner, Duke Hall of Fame Diver, Dies at 91

Photo Courtesy: Duke University Athletics

John Conner, a member of the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame, passed away this past Saturday at the age of 91.

Born on November 5, 1929 in Weir, W.Va., Conner twice earned All-America honors as a diver at Duke in 1949 and 1950.  He was a three-time Southern Conference champion (1949-50-51) and posted top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships in both 1949 (4th in the 1-meter event) and 1950 (8th in the 1-meter event & 9th in the 3-meter event).

Following graduation from Duke in 1951, Conner served in both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel before embarking on a career with New York Life.

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Conner, who served a stint as the head diving coach at Harvard University from 1956-62, was enshrined into the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.  In addition, he competed in Masters diving events globally, winning over 40 U.S. Masters National Championships and more than one dozen gold medals in world championship competition, and was recognized as an Honor Diver by the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2010.

John Conner was preceded in death by his wife Juanita, daughter Scarlet, son Stephen Duke, grandson Brent and granddaughter Gina. He is survived by daughters Chyan, Jana (Don), Tiffany and Julie (Maury), grandchildren Niki, Hannah, Marcus, Christian, Tiera, Turner, Matthew and nine great grandchildren.

In his memory, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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