KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Each year the Beta Theta Boule Foundation chooses a select group of fathers to honor for their contributions to youth, particularly from inner-city neighborhoods, with their “Fatherhood Excellence” awards.
One of this year’s honorees is a tenured teacher, Dr. Harold Conner, Jr. who says his most important role is that of dad, and a family man.
“You think about your kids, and they never really grow up and leave you,” said Dr. Harold T. Conner Jr., one of this year’s ‘Tribute to Fatherhood’ honorees. When you have as great a relationship with them as Harold says he does with his sons Tilton and Brian, they are always watching.
“I think they’re just very proud of my accomplishments, and they know how hard I’ve worked over the years,” said Harold.
Especially being as technical a person he is, a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee – where his legacy lives on through the “Dr. Harold T. Conner Jr. Endowed Scholarship.” More recently, 2013, Harold got his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama before joining UCOR in 2015.
Accolades and accomplishments aside, Harold says it’s all about relationships as it relates to the lasting impact he has left on East Tennessee.
“Treating people with dignity and respect – that’s what people remember and that’s how people relate to you,” said Harold. “I love my own two but I love others as well and I think I behave in that way I think people see me that way.”
“I think about the responsibility, you know the child that you helped bring into the world you have an innate responsibility to that child for their lifetime,” Harold went on to say. “I think you’re here because someone felt that way about you. And, so I like to think I passed it on to my two sons and others I’m involved with. Pass it on. That love and nurturing and how you cherish one another.”
“I think the thing I value most about you is just the relationship that you have with my mother,” said Brian Conner, one of Harold’s two sons. I’m so grateful for the example you set in your marriage and just the inspiration it’s given to me just how much you loved her and how none of your accomplishments none of anything you’ve ever done can ever surpass the love that you have for your family.”
“He took me on a date to a restaurant, and he told me that he didn’t allow eating in his car, but he took me to a drive up restaurant… so we sat outside on a bench to eat this hamburger, it was very good by the way, but I thought gosh this guy is kinda weird,” laughed Joyce Conner, Harold’s wife, as she told the story of their first date.
“Weird” turned into 49 years of marriage this Fall. “… Even though I tease about him being a nerd,” said Joyce.
“Seeing the things he does now even though he’s not a teacher in the classroom he’s sharing what he’s learned or trying to help someone else.. going to the University to speak to the students there, is a highlight for him,” said Joyce.