John Robert Conder, age 90, of Camden Tennessee, died Saturday, January 16, at Eiffel Gardens in Paris, TN, from cancer, a worn-out body, and a final push out the door and toward heaven by Covid-19.
John was born to the late Al and Lelia Conder on August 14, 1930 in Parsons, TN. He married the love of his life, Dorothy Paula Simmons on New Year’s Day, 1950 and began what would be a remarkable 71-year partnership.
With Paula by his side, he attended UT Knoxville, finished his degree in biology at Utah State in Logan Utah, served in the army, lived briefly in San Antonio, TX and was stationed in Anchorage Alaska in 1954, living and working there for 2 years.
John and Paula loved the mountains and streams of the western United States and Alaska, but connection to family and the beauty of Tennessee was a stronger calling and in 1956 they returned to Tennessee, living briefly near Morristown, and then choosing Camden as their permanent home around 1959.
John worked as a fisheries biologist for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for over 35 years. He and Paula raised two children, Scott, and Elaine, and built a beautiful home overlooking the Tennessee River. John was a loving father, wonderful grandfather and great grandfather, beloved uncle, hard worker and generous member of his community and church. He was an artist, carpenter, and jack of all trades. He also loved to pull good-natured pranks on humans and animals alike and was especially talented at imitating dog barks and owl calls. Nothing gave him a bigger laugh than getting an unsuspecting dog completely out of sorts by letting out a few of his own barks!
Throughout his life he was known for doing volunteer work and random acts of kindness including bringing gift bottles of his homemade wine to many a neighbor and friend (and even to his doctor in Nashville!). He traveled to provide relief and cleanup following hurricane Katrina with First United Methodist Church of Camden (where he was a member). He was a member of the Shriners for over 50 years and a member of Masonic Lodge #179 in Camden.
His body was worn out after 90 years of full living, but even in his final year, his mind was clear, thoughtful of others, full of deep spiritual pondering and study of the Bible. And even when not feeling well, he managed to share humor with most everyone he encountered, drawing from what seemed like an endless supply of new (sometimes crude and/or corny) jokes. He and his slightly mischievous smile, strong loving presence and generous heart will be greatly missed!
John is survived by his wife Paula Conder of Camden, TN, son Scott Conder and daughter-in-law Sue of Camden, TN, Daughter, Elaine Conder of Missoula, MT, Grandchildren Emily, Wesley, and Lucas (Katie) Conder, and great grandchildren, Eligh, Georgia Rose, Emma and Avery Conder.
Cards and condolences may be sent to: Paula Conder c/o Eiffel Gardens. 1025 Volunteer Dr., Apt. F-4, Paris, TN 38242.
Memorial donations can be made to Camden First United Methodist Church, the Shriners Organization, or the Environmental Organization of Your Choice..
A Celebration of Life ceremony is being planned and will be announced in the weeks to come.