Ralph Conner

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Conner, Ralph L., Lt. Col USAF Ret.

Ralph L. Conner was born about an hour southwest of Sioux City, IA up in the Northeast corner of Cornhusker

Country in the small, hardworking farming community of Wakefield, NE on Sun., May 24th, 1931. As a senior Ralph was a member of the undefeated 1948 Wakefield High School State Championship basketball team. In the Fall of 1949, during his first year of college at Wayne State College in neighboring Wayne, NE. Ralph was a member of WSC's only undefeated football team, ever, and was inducted into their Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999. It was towards the end of his second year in college when Ralph and a friend decided to enlist in the US Air Force as the Korean War was escalating. At first slated to be a B-29 tail-gunner, he signed up for training to become an officer and radar operator and flew in the back seat of an F-94 jet interceptor in 1953. From there Ralph went on to navigation school and finally pilot training in late 1954. The Air Force decided they needed tanker pilots so Ralph first flew KC-97s beginning in mid 1955 and joined the 2nd class to train in the KC-135 which he flew for 11 years until his last tour in Vietnam (1969-70) where he flew B-57s and O-1s (FAC). He retired in the summer of 1972 after nearly 22 yrs in.

After the Air Force, Ralph took his family to the island city of Venice on the lower Gulf Coast of Florida where he worked as a real estate broker in the area for 30+ years. Everywhere he ever lived Ralph was always involved with the landscaping aspects of his home from building fences or laying sod, to creating intricate plantings, rock gardens, & paths with flowers, plants & trees of all descriptions. He did a stint as Airport Manager at Venice Airport and served on local committees. He joined various civic organizations including Kiwanis & was a 7+ gallon blood donor. He and Jan moved to New Mexico in 2008, for the 2nd time, after living in Roswell in the mid 1960s at Walker AFB.

The Good Lord called Ralph to his Final Skyward Rendezvous the evening of June 12, peacefully, with family present. He was preceded in death by his mother, Eva & his much loved sister, Betty & 1 grandson, Conner L Smithhisler. He is survived by his loving wife of 62 yrs, Janet Eileen (Mostoller) Conner, son Steve of Edgewood, daughter Linda Smithhisler, husband Mark & son Galen, from Dallas TX & Ralph's younger brother Glenn from Omaha as well as numerous cousins, nieces & nephews & in-laws scattered throughout the country. Final interment will take place at Arlington Nat'l Cemetery later this year. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in his name to Wreaths Across America & to Flags for Fallen Vets.

Published in Albuquerque Journal on June 29, 2017
bullet Korean War bullet U.S. Air Force