Conner honored as Unsung Hero
In honor of Older Americans Month, 14 Lehigh County residents were recognized May 15 at the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services’ 19th annual tribute to Unsung Heroes at Fellowship Community, Zentz Community Center, Whitehall.
This tribute honors older adults in the Lehigh Valley who have displayed exceptional generosity with their time and talents to enrich the lives of others in the community.
Ulysses “Junior” F. Conner Jr., of Whitehall, was among the honorees. Marianne Werling, community services and support supervisor at the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services, read his tribute at the event.
“Whitehall Township and Lehigh County were indeed honored to have Ulysses F. Conner Jr. — known simply as Junior — as one of its residents,” Werling said. “For many in Lehigh County, we were shocked to hear of the untimely passing of Junior March 13, at the age of 76.”
She noted that Conner devoted his life to public service, first as a Lehigh County corrections officer, then in the county sheriff’s department, as a county constable and as a Whitehall High School security officer.
“Conner had a huge heart and was always there to extend a helping hand to others,” she noted.
This nomination is not only for his work for the people of Lehigh County, but also for his volunteer work in retirement in Coplay Borough and Whitehall and North Whitehall townships as a member of the Ironton Rail Trail Commission, Werling noted.
Conner and the IRT board spent thousands of hours working on the trail — planning, attending meetings, conducting tours and, in Conner’s case, assisting those on the trail who may have had a mechanical issue with their bicycle.
Because of Conner’s volunteer efforts and that of the IRT board and the three municipalities, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources views the IRT as a model of intermunicipal cooperation and volunteerism.
Conner loved to travel and bike on trails throughout the country with his IRT board members, Werling reported. At every chance he could get, he would speak glowingly about what had been accomplished with the IRT.
“When Junior wasn’t roaming the bike trails with his bike, he was out there making the trails better and safer for others,” she said.
Conner will always be remembered as that guy who drove the funny-looking bike, called a lowrider, with the flags blowing in the wind behind him on every trail he could find, she said.
“I’m sure when Junior reached the pearly gates, one of his questions was, ‘Do you have a trail?’” Werling said. “Thank you, Junior, for a life in service to our community as an Unsung Hero.”
After the tribute, the recipients and their guests were treated to an assortment of refreshments.