David E. Connor
Born September 23, 1925
ICONIC CIVIC LEADER PASSES
PEORIA- David E. Connor, 93, of Fort Myers, Florida, formerly of Peoria, passed away peacefully in Peoria with his family by his side.
In his youth, words given to him by a Missionary to China, “polish your corner of the world” - became words that David E. Connor lived by throughout his life in both word and deed. He believed in people and encouraged everyone to be the very best they could be.
Born Sept. 23, 1925 in Omaha, NE, he was the son of Edward James and Eleanor (McGilton) Connor. He married Carroll Van Bergen Luthy on April 15, 1950 in Peoria. She preceded him in death Oct. 2, 2015.
Survivors include his daughters, Susan "Toodie" Connor of Monroe, WA and Sara (Gary) Connor- James of Peoria, IL; two granddaughters, Alexandra (Juan Diego) James-Cuadrado-Moreno of Arlington Heights, IL and Elizabeth James of Washington, DC; sister, Susan Collins of Peoria, IL; niece, Martha (Rob) Collins-Bach of Peoria, IL; and nephews, Stan (Lori) Collins of Peoria, IL and Chris Cameron of Atlanta, GA. He was preceded in death by his parents, and sister Harriett Cameron Thrasher.
From humble beginnings, David started school in a one room schoolhouse and quickly accelerated, graduating from Peoria High School at just 16 years old. He was enterprising early on in his life, and when the opportunity to attend Yale University was awarded him, he worked diligently to pay his own tuition for his first year there. With the outbreak of WW2 he joined the Navy, attended Midshipman School at Columbia University and went on to serve as an Officer on the USS Caribou. He was graduated in the Class of 1945W with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, Phi Betta Kappa. He also holds an Honorary JD from Bradley University, where he served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. David was the former President, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Commercial National Bank in Peoria. He created the multi-bank holding company Midwest Financial Group, which eventually was purchased by a series of banks ending with PNC. He then continued his civic influence by launching David E. Connor & Associates - Financial Consultants.
David Connor loved this community, and over the span of his life, he invested much time, talent and treasure to many civic organizations in the Peoria Area. He was a fearless and visionary leader, never denying his own experience or convictions “for the sake of peace and quiet.” His long history of civic involvement forever changed Peoria’s skyline and future. He played integral roles in the founding of Lakeview Museum, the Downtown Sears Project, the Civic Center, and the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, and lent his expertise to the boards of CIL-Corp and Keystone Steel & Wire. He served as Chairman of the Illinois Art Council, and was on the Board of the Museum Trustees of America. He proudly became a delegate at the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention in 1969 and 1970 with his close pal John Parkhurst.
Following his signature motto: "polish your corner of the world," he received numerous awards, including the Peoria H.S. Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Bob Michel Lifetime Achievement Award. David Connor was both brilliant and fair in business. He was the man to see, when there was a business project and/or political campaign, or something commercial or civic that required prompt action. He was a champion for righting wrongs and of equal opportunity.
His most important investment in life was his family. Family came first. He also loved learning. He attended multiple classes at Bradley University at the age of 70, in order to better understand the earth, and the geology of what he was exploring when traveling. He had a fascination about the botony, the biology, and the very ground he walked on, when visiting 60 countries with his wife Carroll, over the span of their married life together.
Yes, David Connor loved life and lived it to the fullest. He enjoyed fishing, duck hunting, horseback riding, bird watching, sailing and had a special affinity for being on the water. He was a voracious reader, an incredible dancer, and loved both singing and playing the piano. He loved animals, especially his Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and his Siamese cats.
David was raised in a Christian household and was a man of great faith. He was a Sunday school teacher and a mentor to highly successful individuals such as John Blossom, John Morris, and former Mayor of Peoria Dick Carver among others. He was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Peoria, and St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Sanibel, Florida.
His infinite wisdom, exemplary leadership, and sound advice were a few of David’s highly respected attributes. Additionally, his wonderful listening ear, his deep passion for life, and his constant guiding hand will all be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him.
Yes, David E. Connor “polished his corner of the world,” and our world will forever be the timeless beneficiary.
A celebration of David's life will be held at a later date at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Peoria. Details will be forthcoming.
Inurnment will be at St. Michael's and All Angels Church Columbarium in Sanibel, Florida.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Heartland Festival Orchestra.
Online condolences may be made at www.woolsey-wilton.com
- Edward James Connor, Father
- Eleanor McGilton Connor, Mother
- Carroll Van Bergen Luthy, Wife
- Susan "Toodie" Connor, Daughter
- Sara and Gary Connor-James, Daughter
- Alexandra and Juan Diego James-Cuadrado-Moreno, Granddaughter
- Elizabeth James, Granddaughter
- Susan Collins, Sister
- Martha and Rob Collins-Bach, Niece
- Stan and Lori Collins, Nephew
- Chris Cameron, Nephew
- He was preceded in death by his parents, Edward and Eleanor ; and his sister, Harriet Cameron Thrasher.
- Heartland Festival Orchestra
- A celebration of life to be held at a later date. Details forthcoming.
David E. Connor
August 6, 2019
Sara and Susan and family,
My condolences to all of you for the passing of David. He was truly a great leader at the bank and to the community. I feel very fortunate to have worked for him for nearly twenty years. His retirement from the bank created a vacancy at the top of the leadership in our community that has not yet been filled.
With sympathy and in friendship,
August 4, 2019
David E. Connor was one of the most important leaders in the last half century in Peoria. Prayers for his wonderful daughters whose accomplishments he so often boasted to me over the years and to his entire family.
From my observation, Dave's leadership was at the center of nearly every civic, business, social, and cultural decision in Peoria for decades. Among dozens of leadership roles, he was co-chair with Sally Page of the campaign that established Lakeview Center of Arts & Sciences in 1965, the organization that would grow into the Peoria Riverfront Museum today. I keep his photo at my desk in the president's office at the museum today as a reminder of the leaders who make a difference for all of us.
He was one of the great mentor relationships of my early professional and civic life and my countless lunches, meetings and phone calls with him will be forever embedded in my memory. He had a generous heart and a genuine concern for Peoria, his adopted hometown he entered thanks to the love of his life, one of the most elegant and lovely Peorians ever, Carroll Luthy Connor, who left us in 2015.
For those who knew or never knew them, please take a moment to pray gratefully for the selfless leaders like the Connors who used their talents to make life better for all. Rest in peace, David E. Connor.
August 4, 2019
I have many fond memories of Dave. He shared vibrant stories as we sat in the duck blind waiting for the sun to rise. Dave had an artist do a painting of Dave and I with his dog Leo. It hung just as you entered The Bank. Bruce Matteson was the artist. My wife and I worked for Dave at the hunting club. Our children were raised at the duck club. We have many fond memories of our years there. Dave was a great influence on our lives and he will be missed.