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Connor wanted Ocean Springs to be the best it could be

By Karen Nelson | Sun Herald | July 23, 2013
 Ocean Springs Mayor's Youth Council received the 2009 D.L. 'Pat' and Ethelyn Connor Tree Canopy Award for their work at the 2009 Arbor Day Event.

SUBMITTED PHOTO Ocean Springs Mayor's Youth Council received the 2009 D.L. 'Pat' and Ethelyn Connor Tree Canopy Award for their work at the 2009 Arbor Day Event. Students assisted with the distribution of more than 1,000 trees to area residents. From left: Former Alderman-at-Large Julia Weaver, Ethelyn Connor, Aubrey Redmon, Deetra Louis, De'Erica Ward, Sara Del Castillo and Mayor Connie Moran.

OCEAN SPRINGS -- Ethelyn Connor, the "Queen Mother" of Ocean Springs, stayed active in her community until the last months of her life.

She died Sunday at the age of 97, still holding the title of director on the state Garden Club board.

She was born in New Orleans, but in 1946 moved to Ocean Springs, where her family had a summer home. She adopted her new city with a passion, especially after her four children were educated and her husband had served two terms as mayor.

Her enthusiasm lasted for decades.

She founded the city's tree society; was a charter member of the 1699 Historical Committee that handles the D'Iberville Landing celebrations, the Walter Anderson Players, Friends of the Walter Anderson Museum and the Urban and Community Forestry Foundation; was active in Keep Mississippi Beautiful and president of Ocean Springs Garden Club.

Her efforts led to Ocean Springs' designation as a "Daylily City" and she was responsible for planting or protecting hundreds of Live Oaks in memory of Mayor Pat Connor, her husband. There were at least a half dozen other organizations and projects that took her time.

"She loved life and she loved the Gulf Coast," said her daughter, Pat Joachim. "She loved her children, but she was so involved with things and wanted to be involved. She wanted Ocean Springs and the Gulf Coast to be the best it could be. She had so many projects and never wanted to turn anything over, because she thought she would be here forever."

Ethelyn Connor clipped articles and saved letters for several of the clubs she belonged to as another way of preserving the city's heritage.

Her family is considering turning that over to the city museum.

"We were awfully proud of who she was," Joachim said. "She was always there for us and for my father."

Her funeral services will be today at St. Paul United Methodist Church downtown, where she was a lifelong member.

Mayor Connie Moran signed a proclamation last year that declared April 28 Ethelyn Connor Day in the city. Moran said Connor was the First Lady of Ocean Springs and said that she was to the city what the Queen Mother was to England.

"She worked hard to preserve our heritage, ancient live oaks, and natural beauty of our community," Moran said Tuesday. "Her tenacity, strong will and gracious Southern charm will not be forgotten. She was a true mentor to me, and one of our city's most cherished citizens."

Roland Weeks, former publisher for the Sun Herald, who served with Connor on projects, said, "Mrs. Connor was beautiful and charming. She was also energetic and she worked tirelessly to make Ocean Springs and the Coast as beautiful as she was.

"She is one of the reasons why I have enjoyed living in South Mississippi since the day I met her, 44 years ago."