Pat Conroy. Born James G Conroy III Washington DC, May 30 1939. Died suddenly of a heart attack, in Deland Florida, on January 17, 2021.
In November of 1944, his father wrote to young Pat from Belgium, where he was stationed during the war, “Mother tells me you are doing splendidly, and I hear Sister gave you a rosary, for being a good boy and a smart boy.”
Although he was good and he was smart, he was also tenacious; some might say he was just plain stubborn. And it is those qualities that might explain his attendance at more than a few high schools: Gonzaga (a Jesuit school in DC), Bullis Prep, Woodward Prep, St. Don Bosco agricultural school in WV, and finally Montgomery Blair HS, from which he graduated. But that same stubbornness and tenacity that made him a “difficult” student are precisely the qualities that saw him through his 25-year battle with prostate cancer.
Shortly after high school, Pat enlisted in the US Marine Corps, serving with distinction. He received an honorable discharge. Again, stubbornness and tenacity to the rescue.
Perhaps the most fitting moniker for Pat — and the one of which he was most proud — is “The Fast Old Man”. While Pat had a lifelong interest in motorcycles, he started getting serious about racing in the fifth decade of his life, in races sanctioned by the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA). Most notably, among many successes, he and his team won the 1991750GP championship in 1991 with his custom built Harley-Davidson XR750.
All of Pat’s qualities and experiences led to him being the Master of the Deal. As such, he was indeed smart and good. He would, with military precision, scan the Thursday and Friday local papers for sales, specifically yard sales, and come Saturday morning — at some ungodly hour, assemble a team, often Emily and James, and off they’d go (no need for a map: whatever the region, Pat knew the places as if they were his old neighborhoods). Add to this Pat’s acumen and stamina, and one was in for a very long day.
Pat was not perfect. None of us is. But he possessed the 2 essential qualities of a gentleman: he was kind — very kind — and he was generous. In personal interactions, one motto he lived by was “The first one to get angry loses”. Add to these attributes an easy laugh and a terrific sense of humor, and there’s Pat. We’ll miss him — Hell, we already do. Pat is survived by children Emily Conroy Dorn, James G. Conroy IV, and stepson Chris Green; one grandchild Nora Dorn; and two brothers, Michael Conroy and Tim Conroy.