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Jerome Nelson Conger

1928 - 2019
Jerome Nelson Conger Obituary
Jerome Nelson Conger

Tallahassee - Jerome Nelson Conger, age 90, of Tallahassee passed away Sunday, August 11, 2019.

Jerry was born to Greene and Marjorie Bowman Conger on December 10, 1928 in Miami, Florida. Following graduation from Miami Edison High School in January 1945, he enlisted in the Navy, serving first as a member of the Seaman Guard in San Diego, followed by two years in Southeast Asia aboard a minesweeper with sweeping duties in the Marshall and Caroline Islands. He was honorably discharged in March 1949. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Miami in 1952 and earned a Master of Public Health degree from Tulane University in 1956.

In 1950 he married Audrey Russell Hansen and was blessed not only in his marriage, but in becoming an instant father to a two year old son, Victor Hansen.

In 1953 Jerry began a career in public health which would span 31 years, beginning employment with the Florida State Board of Health in the local Palm Beach County Health Department and moving on to the State office in Jacksonville. While there he worked on statewide environmental health issues, health planning, health education and administrative activities. In 1969 he moved to Tallahassee when he was appointed Chief, Bureau of Comprehensive Health Planning, Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services and later served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in that department. He finished his career in 1984 after serving four years as the first Executive Director, Florida Hospital Cost Containment Board, Department of Insurance.

During this busy period of his life, he still found time to volunteer and participate in professional service organizations, serving terms as President of the Florida Public Health Association in 1967 and Vice President of the American Health Planning Association, 1976-77.

Jerry found much enjoyment in his retirement, with more time for his artwork and his wood working activities. With Audrey, an expert seamstress who designed and produced soft sculpture dolls and clowns, he participated in arts and crafts shows throughout Florida and Georgia. After the death of his wife, he continued activities related to his passion for the arts, including arts and crafts shows, and membership and participation in Talleon Independent Artists.

In early 1997, while signing up for an art class at the FSU Senior Academy, his path crossed with that of an old friend and co-worker, Helen Butler, who had been widowed 11 years earlier. They were married later that year. He and Helen spent 21 years together enjoying dancing, travel, time at the beach house and afternoons of bridge with friends.

Jerry was an avid reader and, as long as it existed in Tallahassee, was a member of the Great Books Club. He participated in many volunteer activities including: President of the Leon County AARP Chapter 376 (1993 and 1994) and many years in a variety of AARP statewide, district and regional positions. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the Tallahassee Senior Center (1999-2003) and a member of Blueprint 2000 Citizens Advisory Council (2003-2009) serving terms as Vice Chair and Chairman. He volunteered as a long term care ombudsman, Department of Elder Affairs (2003-2010), which included terms as a member of the State Council and was Chair of the State Advocacy Committee. He began delivering Meals on Wheels in 2003. Other activities and memberships were the Audubon Society, Sierra Club and Democratic Club of North Florida, where he was a board member for two years.

In later years, when it became necessary to give up some activities, he narrowed his focus to two activities: the Ombudsman Program, where he spent several hours each week advocating for and defending the rights of seniors living in long term care facilities, and delivering meals for the Meals on Wheels Program. As failing health continued, the last to go was his board membership on his Homeowners Association in February 2019. He was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church.

Jerry Conger was the consummate person who lived and worked for "others". Both in his private and professional life and in his volunteer efforts, he constantly worked in ways that resulted in betterment of the lives of Florida citizens. In all his work he was recognized as a kind and considerate gentleman, known for his intellect and wisdom.

He was predeceased by his father; mother; stepfather, William L. Wright; wife, Audrey R. Conger; son, Daniel Conger; twin sisters, Jeanne Conger Arsenault and Janet Conger Gavagni; and youngest sister, Martha Wright Hill.

He is survived by his wife, Helen; children, Victor Hansen (Marie) and David Conger (Debi); daughter-in-law, Sue Davidson Conger; grandchildren, April Hansen Staples (Mark), Chris Hansen (Corey), Jimmy Conger (Rebecca), Jeremy Conger, and Joel Conger; great grandchildren, Andrew and Morgan Staples, Christian and Chloe Hansen, Carissa Conger, Charlotte Conger, and Devlyn Conger; nieces, Jerialice Arsenault, Janice Arsenault Ramalho, and Beth Hill; and nephew, Gregory Hill.

Also surviving are Helen's children and their families, all who loved and respected him very much, Pat Butler, Jr. (Lori), Beth Butler Morgan (Frank), Ginny Butler Bradley (Chris Myers); six grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be held Friday, August 16 at 3pm at Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home, 1737 Riggins Road with a reception to follow. Interment will follow at Roselawn Cemetery.
Published in Tallahassee Democrat on Aug. 14, 2019
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