William Elias Conway

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  • "I recall meeting Mr. Conway as a young Ass't Pro @ Nashua..."
    - Chuck Urwin
  • "Bill. John and I will miss you, your wit, and your twinkle...."
    - Melissa Marsh
  • "God bless you Bill, you and your family will be in my..."
    - Fred Hammond
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NASHUA - William Elias Conway, 85, of Nashua, and Fortunes Rocks, Biddeford, Maine, passed away on Dec. 29, 2011, in Nashua.

Bill, as he was known, was born in Lowell, Mass., on March 21, 1926, to James Francis and Ellen (McQuade) Conway. He was the third of their five children; his two brothers, James Francis Jr. of Lowell, Mass., and John Keegan of Lawrence, N.Y., and his two sisters, Isabelle Ann Yardley of Needham, Mass., and Ellen Mary of Lowell, Mass., all predeceased him.

Bill graduated from Lowell High School in 1943 and attended Harvard College. He was later appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, from which he graduated in the Class of 1948A. He married his childhood sweetheart, Jane Priscilla Bowler, and they spent 62 years together until her death earlier this year.

After Bill's naval military service on destroyers in the North Atlantic, he and his family moved in 1954 to Nashua, and he joined Nashua Corp. as an industrial engineer. He was elected president of Nashua Corp. in 1969 and was named chairman in 1979. While chairman, he became the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to work directly with Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a pioneer in statistical quality, training and education.

In April 1983, Bill formed Conway Management Co. to help organizations improve operational effectiveness. He succeeded and worked with some of the best-known organizations throughout the world as well as smaller local ones. In recognition of his efforts, in 1984, he received the prestigious Edwards Medal, annually awarded at the meeting of the American Society for Quality. The plaque reads in part, "in recognition of his exemplary leadership and persistent efforts toward the advancement of Statistical Quality Control and his willingness to share his convictions in persuading others in an historical contribution to quality efforts in this country." Bill wrote and published two books, "The Quality Secret: The Right Way to Manage" and "Winning the War on Waste: Changing the Way We Work," as well as numerous articles.

He was a longtime supporter of many charities including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua, Rivier College with its recent library and gymnasium expansions, St. Patrick Church and the Conway Ice Arena. Bill was a longtime member of the Nashua Country Club and a communicant of St. Patrick Church, Nashua, and St. Brendan's Chapel in Biddeford Pool, Maine.

He spent many summers at his beachfront home on Fortunes Rocks Beach in Biddeford, Maine. There he and his wife entertained family and friends. Annual summer family reunions brought together brothers and sisters, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and their families from across the country.

Bill loved to garden, and the output from the garden on the knoll was prodigious as his children used their wagons to deliver vegetables door to door in the neighborhood. He was an avid sports fan and followed the Boston professional sports teams - Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. Wearing appropriate team apparel, Bill was fortunate to attend games with family and friends in each team's recent championship seasons. He was also a regular attendee at his grandsons' hockey games throughout the greater Nashua area.

Bill's was a life well-lived with family and friends. He loved poetry, reading, sports and games and had a great sense of humor. Bill was a world traveler and loved learning about other people and cultures and how their experiences and viewpoints differed from his own.

Bill leaves his two sons, William Elias Jr. and his wife, Joanne of McLean, Va., and James Bowler and his wife, Ann, of Hollis; his three daughters, Mary Jane Conway-King and her husband, Curtis, and Sharon Conway Hall and her husband, Brian, both of Nashua, and Catherine Conway Eames and her husband, Robert, of Andover, Mass.; 13 grandchildren, William Elias Conway III of Chicago, Ill., James Bowler Conway Jr. of San Francisco, Calif., and his wife Caroline, Sean Nemiah Conway of Manchester, and Molly Ann Conway of Boston, Mass., Grace Elizabeth and Connor McClain King of Nashua, Samuel Elias, Zachary Michael, Benjamin James (triplets) and Meredith Keegan Hall of Nashua; and John Warren, Elizabeth Conway and Margaret Mulcahy Eames (triplets) of Andover, Mass. He was predeceased by a granddaughter, Caroline Elizabeth Hall, of Nashua. Mr. Conway also leaves his sister-in-law, Grace Reilly Conway of Westford, Mass., and nine nephews and four nieces.


SERVICES: Calling hours are Monday, Jan. 2, from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Davis Funeral Home, One Lock Street, Nashua. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Patrick Church, 29 Spring St., Nashua, with burial to follow in St. Patrick Cemetery, Derry Road, Hudson. Friends are encouraged to attend. Memorial donations in Bill's name may be made to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua, 47 Grand Ave., Nashua, 03062; the Huntington Employees Scholarship Fund, c/o The Huntington, 55 Kent Lane, Nashua, 03062; or Nashua Pastoral Care Center, 12 Concord St., Nashua, 03064.

Funeral Home
Davis Funeral Home
1 Lock Street
Nashua, NH 03064-2238
(603) 883-3401
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Published in Union Leader on Jan. 1, 1900