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Benjamin Joseph "Ben" CONROY Jr.

1923 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Benjamin Joseph "Ben" CONROY Jr. Obituary
Benjamin Joseph "Ben"
Benjamin Joseph Conroy, Jr. (Ben), 92, of Austin, TX died February 28, 2016. He was born on October 28, 1923 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, the first child of Eleanor and Benjamin J. Conroy. In his 92 years, his talents were expressed in wide ranging areas including: involvement, efforts, and influence in the cable industry; accomplished recording artist in blues, jazz, ragtime, and boogie woogie piano styles; prolific gardening endeavors that yielded bushel after bushel; and a family that included 7 children and 19 grandchildren.

He spent the first 9 years of his life living in Island Pond, Vermont. With Island Pond serving as a major hub on Grand Trunk Railroad's Montreal to Portland line, and with his maternal grandfather being a train engineer for the company, Ben developed a love for steam locomotives that endured his lifetime. In December of 1932, his family moved back to his father's ancestral home in Brooklyn, New York where Ben continued his formative years soaking up the energy, intellect, and culture of the New York City area. He was educated at Brooklyn Preparatory School. After graduation, he spent time at Brooklyn College, Brooklyn Poly Tech, and eventually Holy Cross in the Navy's V-12 program in preparation for admittance to the United States Naval Academy in the summer of 1944. Following his graduation from the USNA in 1947 (Class of '48) Ben spent six years serving on various ships, culminating with three years of service on the battleship USS New Jersey during the Korean War, eventually serving as battle stations Officer of the Deck.

After separating from the Navy in 1954 Ben started the Uvalde Television Cable Corporation in Uvalde, Texas. This began a career that spanned nearly thirty years in the cable industry. In 1965 Ben acted as a founding partner in GenCoe, a holding company operating cable systems in six states. In 1968, Communications Property Inc., (CPI), a holding company operating cable systems in eleven states, was formed with Ben acting as co-founder and senior vice-president. In 1979 he established Conroy Management Services, Inc., which provided cable companies in Texas with management services in areas of administration, operations, engineering, sales promotion and finance.

Early on, Ben realized the importance of industry associations. He was a founder and the first president of the Texas CATV Association and was involved with NCTA in a number of capacities, including secretary, member of the board of directors and served as their tenth national chairman from 1965-1966. He was instrumental in the development of the Pole Line Attachment Legislation, the first piece of national legislation pertaining to the cable industry. This legislation has been credited for giving the young industry the chance to develop and mature, allowing it to eventually stand toe-to-toe with the phone companies, thus forming the business structure as it stands today. He received several NCTA honors including the Advertising Award, the Larry Boggs Award and the Interindustry Relations Award. Regionally, he received the John E. Mankin Award from the Texas Cable TV Association. He was also the Chairperson of the Cable TV Pioneer Managing Board from 1968 - 1993. Ben was also instrumental in the beginning and early development of The Cable Center, where he served as the first Chairman of Board of Directors of The Center when it was at Pennsylvania State University. In 2001 Ben was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame.

Ben's interest in music began early in his life. He first heard the boogie woogie style of piano on the radio in the mid 1930's. The sound captured and resonated within him and soon he began working on developing his own talents. Growing up in Brooklyn allowed a young Ben to be accompanied by his father into the city to see Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, and the powerful playing of Albert Ammons first hand. Taken under their wings, Ben was able to gain proficiency over time and eventually was invited up on stage with his heroes from time to time. Albert Ammons took him aside at one point and told him, "Always be proud of this music - not many people can play it right." His interest in the music was further fueled by his proximity to the city where he was able to start collecting records from the famed Commodore Record shop of East 42nd Street, as well as other record shops on the lower east side. He grew a vast record collection ranging from original Enrique Caruso 78's to folk and bluegrass music. He developed and grew an equally impressive collection of piano rolls.

By his side through all of this was his wife, Antoinette Olwell Conroy (Toni - also of Brooklyn, NY) whom he married in February 1956. During their time in Uvalde, Ben and Toni began a family, having six daughters in 9 years. The years in Uvalde, TX were years where strong friendships were formed that lasted a lifetime. In the late 1960's, business pulled the family to Austin, Texas where their seventh and final child was born. Toni and Ben were founding parishioners of St. Theresa's Catholic Church where Ben, as an usher for over 30 years at the 5 o'clock Saturday mass, stood at the door and welcomed all who came.

Ben was preceded in death by his wife Toni and is survived his daughters Kate Buck of Austin (husband Brian); Toni Blizzard of Houston, TX (husband Tom); Patty DePiero of Ramsey, NJ (husband Mark); Anne "Tese" Roland of Houston, TX (husband David); Sloan Conroy of Austin, TX; Megan Decker of Shelby Township, MI (husband Robert); and his son Benjamin J. Conroy, III of Austin, TX (wife Kisha) and beloved grandchildren: Brigid Buck Mooney (husband Brandon), Caitlin Buck, Molly Buck, Kieran Buck, Quentin Buck, Aidan Buck, Megan Blizzard, Ryan Blizzard (wife Blair), Patrick Blizzard, Cara DePiero, Sloan DePiero, Eve DePiero, Matthew Roland, Jared Roland, Evan Decker, Brandon Decker, Aaron Decker, Maeva Conroy and Olivia Conroy. Ben is also survived by his brother Jack Conroy of Napa, California; his sister Eleanor McGrath of Simsbury, CT; his cousins, Sr. Ann Conroy, RSCJ, of Atherton, CA; Denis O'Brien (wife Shirley) of Pinehurst, NC.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St Vincent De Paul Society (http://www.ssvdp.org/giving) or Naval Academy Foundation (USNAF USNAF Gift Processing, 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402 orhttps://www.usna.com/sslpage.aspx?pid=228). The Conroy children would especially like to thank the wonderful team at Silverado Memory Care in Bee Cave, TX who were essential to our father's wellbeing in the recent past.

Visitation with the Conroy family (Visiting, prayer, food, drinks, and music)

Friday, March 4th: 6:30 pm, 2607 Dominion Hill, Austin, 78733. (Off Bee Cave Road, 5.5 miles west of Loop 360.)

A Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday afternoon, March 5th, at 12:30 pm at St. Theresa Catholic Church, located at 4311 Small Drive, Austin, TX with a reception following. GO NAVY - BEAT ARMY!!
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Mar. 2 to Mar. 6, 2016
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