CONN, PETER D., a member of the Kentucky state legislature and head of the Department of Human Resources in the 1970s under Governor Julian Carroll before starting a successful consulting firm in Miami Beach, FL, died peacefully November 2, 2013 at his home in Louisville after a long illness. He was 70.
Conn was the youngest member of the Kentucky House of Representative when he was first elected in 1970 as a Democrat from Louisville. He immediately drew attention with his campaign for greater openness in government, including personal financial disclosure requirements for elected officials. As chairman of the House Committee on Cities in 1972, he oversaw passage of a major Louisville home-rule measure.
Conn joined the administration of Julian Carroll in 1975 as an executive assistant to the governor. From 1977 to 1979, he served as Secretary of the Department of Human Resources, where he launched some of the first statewide programs of comprehensive care for the mentally disabled and emotionally disturbed youth. His auditing and budgeting reforms, coupled with a crackdown on waste and fraud, were credited with significant savings in welfare and departmental expenditures.
Peter Conn was born in New York City in 1943 and grew up in Louisville, where his uncle and father started what became the state's largest suburban weekly newspaper, The Jefferson Reporter. After attending the University of Louisville in the early 1960's Conn became managing editor of that paper -- winning several awards from state and national press associations before serving in the state legislature. In the early 1970s, he left Kentucky to found and run two weekly newspapers in the US Virgin Islands. He returned in 1974 to work as a commentator on Louisville's WHAS Radio and Television Stations, where his "Prose and Conn" programs won two "Looie" awards for best broadcast commentaries.
An avid scuba diver, underwater photographer, boater, and licensed pilot, Conn moved to Miami Beach in 1979 where he founded the planning and consulting firm Careco, Inc. Careco clients ranged from the State Department's Haitian Task Force and the states of Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia to a number of fortune 500 companies.
In 2003, Conn moved back to Louisville. He is survived by his loving wife of 13 years, Tara O'Toole-Conn; a daughter, Lisa from a prior marriage and a granddaughter, Kelly, both of Tampa, FL; a sister Deborah, and brother Paul of Northern Virginia; and many other family members and friends who cherished his wisdom, wit, and compassionate concern for others. Please see guestbook at www.legacy.com
Published in The Courier-Journal on Nov. 7, 2013