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Carol A. Conaway


1944 - 2019
Carol A. Conaway Obituary
Carol Antonia "Toni" Conaway died peacefully Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, at home in the presence of her loving family following nearly three years of stubborn resistance against cancer. She was predeceased by her parents, Ruth and Arthur Bayley, of Upper St. Clair. She is survived by her high school sweetheart and loving husband of 54 years, Raymond "Ray" Conaway; devoted and cherished children, Claire Conaway Zack (Matthew), of Sewickley, William John "Bill" Conaway II (Nicole), of Mt. Lebanon, loving and adored grandchildren, Chloe, Caroline and Elizabeth "Ellie" Zack, and Nora, Tessa "Tess" and Beau Conaway; also by her devoted sister, Susan Bayley Dean (Carl, deceased), of Ormond Beach, Fla. Born Jan. 1, 1944, in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, N.Y., her family moved to Upper St. Clair from LaGrange, Ill., in 1954. She graduated from Upper St. Clair High School in 1961 and from the College of Wooster in 1965, where she majored in history. After "going steady" throughout high school and college, Toni and Ray married in August 1965 and joined Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), known as the "domestic peace corps," part of President Lyndon Johnson's unsuccessful War on Poverty. They served in Baltimore and Cleveland before returning to Pittsburgh in 1966. Toni then taught at the Jay Neff Middle School in Dormont, supporting Ray and herself while he attended Duquesne University School of Law. She retired from teaching in 1970 to raise her family, while also pursuing an M.A. in history with a focus on liberation theology from the University of Pittsburgh. Throughout her life, Toni was defined by her selflessness, kindness, generosity, devotion to her family and a passion to do all she could to make the world a safer, more humane and just place for all people, regardless of race, religion, nationality or economic circumstance, and particularly for her precious children and grandchildren. Her passion fueled a near insatiable desire for ever more knowledge about critical issues confronting the world. When she believed in a cause, neither her conscience nor her personality would permit her to sit passively by and hope for change. Instead, she was called to action and fully engaged herself in seeking a solution. In the 1980s, fearful of the existential threat to her children and the world posed by the nuclear arms race, she became involved, in a leadership capacity, in the founding and operation of Pennsylvania Peace Links, a volunteer organization of women dedicated to promoting world peace and the reduction of the nuclear threat through education and advocacy. At its peak, the group had several hundred members throughout western Pennsylvania involved in a wide variety of activities and programs promoting peace and social justice. When asked why she invested so much time and energy in a cause that appeared to have such little possibility of success, she replied that she did not know whether success was possible, but for the sake of her children and grandchildren, she chose trying to make a difference over doing nothing. She also devoted considerable time and energy in support of other organizations dedicated to teaching conflict resolution, combating hunger and supporting other social justice issues. She participated in citizen diplomacy to promote international understanding. This work took her to Germany, the Soviet Union and China, where she attended the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. In recent years, she became worried about the potentially cataclysmic consequences of climate change and the role of human activity in causing or contributing to it. This concern too was borne of her love for her grandchildren. Because she did not believe the issue was receiving adequate attention, she again took action and began researching discrete climate-related issues and circulating her findings in weekly emails sent to several hundred friends and acquaintances until her health would not allow her to continue. Nevertheless, her concerns about global warming remained on her mind to the end. While not everyone agreed with all of her conclusions, no one ever questioned either the selflessness of her motives or the sincerity of her actions. Notwithstanding her concerns about serious and complex issues, she was known and loved by her friends and family for her generosity, kindness, lighthearted personality and warm sense of humor. Before being limited by bad knees, she was an avid tennis and platform tennis player and golfer. She loved yearly ski trips and vacations in the Bahamas with her family. She loved reading to her young grandchildren and encouraging them to learn. She was a voracious reader. Her Kindle was a constant companion and she loved participating in several book groups. She was a dedicated duplicate bridge player, achieving life master status. Through her diverse interests, she had many, often interlocking, circles of friends. She delighted in bringing people from those varied circles together. All who knew her will miss her greatly.
A celebration of her life will took place at Allegheny Country Club. Interment at Sewickley Cemetery will be private. Arrangements were by RICHARD D. COLE FUNERAL HOME.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in her memory to any of the following: Pittsburgh Community Food Bank; the Thomas Merton Center; the Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Chapter; and the Thomas Krivak Gynecologic Oncology Research Fund, care of Allegheny Health Network Research Institute.
Published in Sewickley Herald on Oct. 17, 2019
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