James Leon Conner, age 88, passed away at home in San Angelo, Texas, on Sunday, July 7, 2019. Leon was born in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia on March 13, 1931, to William and Flora Conner. An only child, Leon joined the Army and served as part of the peacekeeping forces in Germany during the Korean War. When he returned home he enrolled at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech) where he earned a degree in engineering. Leon married Avis Craig of Meadows of Dan, Virginia on July 27, 1954, while still a student at VPI. Upon graduation, Leon accepted a job first at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and later at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Washington, DC. Leon worked on many important vehicle safety measures, earning a patent related to school bus safety. Over the course of his career with NHTSA, Leon took on challenging roles in many states, moving with his wife and 4 children to Georgia, Ohio, and Texas. The couple eventually divorced, and Leon married Marsha Wainscott of Brady, Texas. Leon and Marsha had one child.
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Leon loved tinkering with cars and had a talent for figuring out how to fix or build almost anything. He had a wonderful sense of humor and enjoyed regaling his family and friends with stories and jokes. Having grown up on a farm, Leon loved animals, and the family had a wide assortment of beloved pets over the years. Leon was passionate about traveling and loved the great outdoors. He enjoyed camping and exploring the wonders of our national parks.
Leon is survived by his four children from his first marriage: Jim (Maisa), David, Becky (Michael), and Jeff; his second wife, Marsha, son Coy, and stepdaughter Shelley (Rob); 11 grandchildren: Patrick (Helen), Will (Michelle), Daniel (Bonnie), Becky (Paul), Sam, Benjamin, Raneem, Caleb, Jacque, Brooke, and Brenna; and 5 great-grandchildren: Lucas, Ella, Jake, Dotty, and Simon.
A memorial and celebration of life will be held in his hometown of Woolwine, Virginia.