Richard W. Conner
AGE: 92 • Vineland
Longtime Vineland resident, entrepreneur and philanthropist Richard W. Conner, age 92, passed away September 21 at home, surrounded by family. Mr. Conner was born in 1924 to Samuel S. and Elva N. Conner of Waynesboro PA.
He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1949, his studies were interrupted by a tour of duty in the post-war Army. Following in his physician father's footsteps, he enrolled in the Temple U. Medical School, but left before finishing and moved to Millville NJ where he became a partner in PDQ Products, a manufacturer of flying model airplane kits. Mr. Conner's time at PDQ is still remembered for his design of the award-winning Circus King, which for decades was highly regarded by control line flying model enthusiasts.
In the mid-1950s Mr. Conner separated from PDQ and started Rennoc Games and Toys in Port Norris. While manufacturing in Port Norris, Mr. Conner met and, in 1959, married Janet Berry. Around 1960 the company relocated to the WWII-era barracks complex at the Millville Airport. In the early 1960s, on the advice of one of his sales representatives, Walt Hendricks, Mr. Conner transitioned the company to the manufacture of textile Christmas decorations. In 1972 the company, rechristened Rennoc Corporation, relocated to a new facility in Vineland. The company grew quickly and became the world's leading manufacturer of plush Christmas decorations and a major local employer. Mr. Conner revolutionized the manufacture of Christmas stockings and other textile Christmas decorations through improvement of production processes, automation and product diversification while maintaining exceptional standards of quality and product styling. Rennoc Corp also manufactured high school team jackets and established a reputation for peerless quality in this field as well.
In the 1990s, Mr. Conner made significant philanthropic efforts in the local community including the founding of Hendricks House (named in remembrance of the man who had guided him into his most successful line of business), an outstanding halfway house for people in recovery from substance abuse, and Rennoc Corporation Foundation, a charitable foundation. In addition to his business and philanthropic pursuits, Mr. Conner was an avid tennis player.
He is survived by his brother Stanley and sister-in-law Ingrid, his children Samuel, Kathryn (Vertolli), Carol, Karen (Iveson), Deborah and Kimberly, grandchildren Joshua, RJ, Matthew, Andrew and Ashley.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend the visitation on Saturday, September 24th from 11am to 2pm at DeMarco-Luisi Funeral Home, 2755 S. Lincoln Ave., Vineland, where a funeral service will be held at 2pm. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be sent to Hendricks House (www.hendrickshousegroup.org
), designated for use in funding Hendricks House's Conner Upward Mobility Initiative, a program to facilitate education and vocational training for Hendricks House graduates. Memories, thoughts and prayers may be extended to the family by visiting dlfuneral.com