John Joseph Conley Jr.

Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ketchikan resident John Joseph "JC" Conley Jr. died Jan. 31, 2010, in Juneau. He was 55.

Born Oct. 7, 1954, in Riverside, Calif., he was from a military family and spent the majority of his childhood living in Puerto Rico and Germany. He moved to Ketchikan in 1975 and worked as a chef at the Fireside Supper Club and Lounge. He started working for Boyer Towing in the late-1970s.

After the birth of his first son, Sean, he decided he needed to stay closer to home and family and started working at Service Auto Parts. He was the manager for several years and later went on to be the owner of both the Ketchikan and Craig stores. He loved to cook and work in the garden.

He served three terms on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, and as vice-mayor of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. He also served twice as chair of the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce.

He is better known by some as "Mr. Southeast Conference." A Southeast Conference board member since 1989, he served twice as president and had planned to serve a third term as president in 2010. In that capacity, he volunteered a tremendous amount of his valuable time and business expertise to coordinate the efforts of Southeast Alaska's business and civic leaders in growing the economy of the region.

As president, he doubled the membership of the organization and tripled event attendance. During his tenure, he expanded the focus of the organization to include the electric intertie and fisheries. Despite the budget limitations of the small nonprofit, he found funding for an energy coordinator. He also increased the organization's existing focus on transportation, tourism and economic development.

In 2002, due to his great service to the region, he was appointed by Gov. Frank Murkowski to serve as vice-chair on the Alaska Marine Transportation Advisory Board. Ultimately, he went on to serve as the chair. He represented the southern part of Southeast Alaska, a seat he still holds.

In 2006, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Mike Barton asked him to chair an intertie steering workgroup tasked with considering the feasibility of exporting Alaska hydroelectric power to the British Columbia power grid.

He was preceded in death by his father, John Joseph Conley Sr.

He is survived by his sons, Sean Conley and wife, Ashley Skidmore, and their daughter, Tristan, of Ketchikan, Nicholas Conley, of Wisconsin Dells, Wis.; girlfriend, Jodi Mitchell, of Juneau; mother, Virginia Conley, of Lakewood, Wash.; brothers, Patrick Conley, of Virginia, and Michael Conley and his children, Andrew and Paige, of Lakewood, Wash.; sisters, Mary Field and husband, Lee, and their daughter, Sarah, of Gig Harbor, Wash., Jennifer Conley and her son, Lauren, of Lakewood; former spouse, Dena Minicucci, of Ketchikan; and numerous nephews and cousins.

A celebration of life will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.

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