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Remembrance of a FH Mom, Volunteer

Mary Ellen Pryor Connor, who lived in Fair Haven for 50 years, was known as tireless volunteer, mom, and aide to special needs children.

You know loss has hit Fair Haven when you pass the Fair Haven firehouse and see a sign of mourning.

All last week that sign was one for the borough’s own Mary Ellen Connor, a 50-year resident, lifetime fire company member and second mom to countless kids who knew her as their lunch lady and friend to all.

Mary Ellen Connor spent most of her life raising her eight children in Fair Haven, volunteering at the fire company, always at the fair and in several other venues, working at Knollwood School and being there for many people who grew to love her as an embracing mom whose door and heart were always open.

Mary Ellen died, at 78, last week on Sept. 25 in her home in South Carolina where she had taken her love of children to her job as an aide to those with special needs there for the 27 years following her half-century in Fair Haven.  

She was laid to rest over the weekend. But, here in Fair Haven she was not easily forgotten.

When news hit of her death, comments flooded her Facebook page as well as Fair Haven’s.

Her daughter, Evie Connor Kelly, wrote, in an email to Patch the day of her mother’s funeral, “I hope Fair Haven kids (now adults) will remember her from her lunchroom lady days (15 years). Our entire childhood, we have fond memories of our parents working the firemen's fair. We all started as 'fair workers' from about 5 years old or so. When I think of growing up in Fair Haven, I often think of women like my mother and mother-in-law, who mothered big families there, namely the Connor, Kelly, Murphy, Conley, Chandler and Riley families, to name few. We all grew up together. Our siblings were in each other's classes … It was special.”

And it was to many who were brought up in Fair Haven and knew Mary Ellen Connor.

“I just want to say how sorry I am to all you Connor children on the loss of your mom,” said Ethel Hodgkiss Truex on Facebook. “Not only did she raise a bunch of great kids of her own, but she touched the lives of so many of us when we where kids, being our lunch lady and supervising us during the fair work days!! She truly was a great lady who will be missed. My thoughts are with you all.”

“Thank you for putting a little extra in Barbara's lunch bag for me during high school,” said Kim Halligan Garrison on Mary Ellen’s Facebook page. “It meant more than you'll ever know. RIP Mrs Connor.”

Family wrote about her endearing smile, sense of humor and “great laugh (that) rang through out our homes, weddings, softball games, firehouse functions and holiday gatherings.”

Mary Ellen’s last entry on Facebook was on Easter. It read, “Happy Easter everyone ! I hope you all have a blessed day!”

Mary Ellen Pryor Connor was predeceased by her husband, John Joseph Connor, and two sisters, Margie Pryor and Evelyn Lantott. She  was born on Dec. 4, 1933, in Red Bank, the daughter of the late Luke and Mary Beckett Pryor. She was a special needs teacher's aide at Guinyard-Butler Middle School in Barnwell, SC, District 45. She was a life member of the Fair Haven Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary.

Surviving her are: her son, Joseph L. Connor, of Neptune; daughters, Mary Beth (Wendy) Gibson, of Barnwell, SC, Mickey (Jon) Martin, of Statesboro GA, Joan Wood, of Virginia Beach VA, Barbara Halligan, of Quaker Town, PA, Evelyn (Evie) Kelly, of Long Branch, Susan McDaniel, of Long Branch, and Sister Judith Connor, of Pittsburgh, PA; 20 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Take a look at the slideshow above in memory of Mary Ellen Connor. Thanks to the Connor family and Facebook contributors for the photos. Please feel free to leave your thoughts about Mary Ellen in the comments section below.

Jeremy E. Owens October 02, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Wow! Mary Ellen touched the lives of so many from Fair Haven to little, old Barnwell, SC. None other has made such a lasting impact on so many people. We, her friends and "family" at Guinyard Butler Middle School, are all better people because of the memorable impact that she made upon each of our lives. We love you and will forever miss, our dear friend, Mary Ellen Connor.
Barbara Connor Halligan October 02, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Elaine, thank you so much for your story. It's so heartwarming to know Mom touched so many people. I think we were so lucky to grow up when we did with the parents we had; (your Mom was my girl scout leader). Parents who cared and watched out for everyone's children...not just their own. They taught us such great values, often by action, rather than words: work ethic, good manners, and, most important, to show respect. And thank you, Carol, for your comments. You couldn't have said it better. What a lucky bunch of people we are to carry those wonderful memories!!!
Elaine Van Develde October 02, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Yes, Barbara, we are lucky to have been brought up by such good people who really did care and showed it by not showing off or ever patting themselves on the back, but just being there ... yes, action, not words. ;)
Jennie B. Lemon October 03, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Jennie Lemon I met Joe and Mary Ellen through my friendship with Mary Beth and Wendy Gibson. There was an immediate bond with both of them. Over the years of teaching together, and taking many "girls weekend trips" to the beach, Mary Ellen and I grew very close. She even became a special friend to my sister and daughter from Charleston, SC. I loved her sense of humor and her determined flow of energy. I guess I adopted her (and Papa Joe) as "parents" having lost mine way too early. They were wonderful to me and my family. My children and husband loved them also.....but Mary Ellen(or M.E., as I called her) and I were special friends. I miss her so much, but am so thankful that I had her in my life. Funny, Mary Beth and my daughter, Nancy, are good friends, too. History repeats itself, right? My love to all the Conner family.
Melanie (Reed) Woods October 04, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady. Watching the video brought tears to my eyes. I always felt fondness for the Connor family. Prayers to all.

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