Remembering “The Duck”
For more than 33 years I have worked here and obviously when you do something for that long you develop relationships with people. I have been blessed in that many of them have become close friends.
Along that path I’ve also come across some colorful characters and on my all-time top ten list would be Don Connor. Most of you probably have no idea who he was because today is the 25th anniversary of his death which I find amazing. To me it seems like it was just yesterday that I aired a special tribute of the passing of Jackson Memorial High School’s Athletic Director, a man known to most as “The Duck.”
Saying Don was “unique” would be a bit of an understatement. Kind of like calling Alex Rodriguez “controversial.” Connor was simply a laugh-riot who could light up a darkened room just by walking into it. You could be having a terrible day and he’d give you a slap on the back and say something that would force you to smile. Plus he had this distinctive way of talking from one side of his mouth and you could not help but laugh at how it sounded.
However “Duck” was more than just a fun guy, especially in Jackson where he was a teacher, coach and Athletic Director from 1961 until his untimely death in 1987. He also served as the township recreation director for some 20 years.
He was Mr. Jackson and even through the darkest times the Jaguars #1 fan who bled red and black. It didn’t matter if it was morning; noon or night. If there was a game at his school then Connor was there. He suffered when the Jags lost but celebrated when they won and when he passed away a quarter-century ago Jaguar Nation lost its heart and soul. You only had to witness the number of people who attended his funeral services to know the impact Don made on so many lives.
Fortunately Don’s memory lives on in several ways. When Jackson Memorial faces Jackson Liberty on the football field Thanksgiving Eve they will once again be competing for the Connor Cup which lives in the trophy case of the winning school.
There is also the street in front of the school which was re-named Don Connor Boulevard a while back, a fitting tribute to a man who road back and forth on that road many times.
However the greatest reminder of the Duck’s spirit is his wife Irene, who rarely misses a big Jaguar game regardless of the sport or season. Somebody has to fill him on what he’s missing!