Mr. Frank Ayres Conner Jr.
Mr. Frank Ayres Conner Jr. passed away from cancer on Jan. 31, 2014. He is survived by a sister, Katy Conner of Peachtree City, GA, a brother, Tim Conner, of Austell, GA, four nieces, a nephew, and grandnieces and grandnephews. Never married, Frank led a most interesting life, and always seemed to be where the action was.
Frank was born in Englewood, NJ, on July 11, 1933, to Southern parents, Frank and Viera Conner, both of Macon, GA lineage. The family moved back to Cornelia, GA during World War II. There, he saw the funeral train for Pres. Franklin Roosevelt go through town. Later, after the family moved to Newnan, GA, he rode the inaugural run of the "Man O'War" Central of Georgia train from Atlanta to Columbus. He was visiting in Atlanta when the Winecoff Hotel burned, and saw the aftermath of that disaster. As a young man, he sold peaches in Newnan, GA for Doc Moody, who instructed him that, in addition to selling the peaches, if a particularly good, juicy peach should come down the line, he was to eat it. If full, he should fill up a sack of the best peaches to take home to his mamma. Things were different back then.
He enjoyed a year at North Georgia College, and then transferred to study chemical engineering at Georgia Tech, long enough to learn that chemical engineering was not for him. He joined the Air Force in the Aviation Cadets training program, and was commissioned a second lieutenant, as the Korean War was drawing to a close. He served as a radar navigator-bombardier in the Strategic Air Command. He flew on B-50 bombers, which were basically WWII B-29 bombers with more-powerful engines. After the Air Force, he worked for a while for IBM, as a customer engineer, keeping punch card machines running for his clients.
He bought one of the initial scuba models that used compressed air, that were sold in this country. He was a gun enthusiast all his life. He learned to handload his own ammunition, and was proficient in quickdraw. In 1961, as a student at the University of Georgia, amidst the integration riot, and was deputized by Sheriff Huff to aid in restoring order.
He traveled the Southeast with Lucky McDaniel, teaching bird hunters to hit birds in flight with their shotguns, by using the Daisy air rifle with the sights removed., and teaching police departments to quickdraw and hip-shoot their pistols for emergency self-defense.
Frank went to work for General Electric at their facility on San Salvador Island in the Caribbean, tracking Atlas Missiles fired from Cape Canaveral. He took leave-of-absence from GE and spent two years at the University of Georgia to earn his BBA degree. After that, he became a weapon systems planner for GE in New York.
Acting on his life-long love of motorcycles, he went to work for the U.S. importer of Bultaco motorcycles. He went to Detroit and persuaded the Ford executives to buy the Bultaco factory (which Frank would run), in return for which they would be licensed to build cars in Spain. But at the last minute, Generalissimo Franco changed his mind and killed the deal. Frank then imported Ossa motorcycles into Houston, to distribute to dealers around the U.S.
Frank was hired as feature editor of Cycle Magazine, where he did road tests, and long-travel articles. He then became editor of Cycle Guide magazine. There, he did a road test of a popular Japanese street bike which-unbeknownst to him-was dangerous. It put him in the hospital. They analyzed the deficiencies of that model, and he wrote the road test, urging the reader not to buy it. The manufacturer immediately redesigned that model to eliminate the deficiencies, but Frank ended up fired and blacklisted from the motorcycle magazine business.
He then went to work for J. Walter Thompson Advertising in Los Angeles, writing TV commercials and print ads. His last outside employment was for Hughes Aircraft, writing technical manuals. Frank then retired to Newnan, Georgia, where he wrote a book, "South Under Siege, 1830-2000" and a yet to be published book, "End Run."
The memorial service will be Monday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. at Central Baptist Church with Dr. Joel Richardson officiating. The visitation will be from 1 p.m. until service time on Monday at the church.
Condolences may be expressed online at www.mckoon.com .
McKoon Funeral Home, 38 Jackson St., Newnan GA, 30263; 770-253-4580.