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CHRIS CONWAY Chris Conway is one of the most intelligent men Ive ever known a modern Renaissance man

n if there ever was. Although he held degrees in both psychology and communication, Chris passions were first his family and then music. Like many of you, it was through music that I met Chris. But it was his intelligence and vast amount of knowledge through which I came to respect him, and it was his soul, his concern for his family and friends, and his propensity to love anyone with whom he came in contact that caused me to love him. Chris was a prankster. He never missed an opportunity to find the joke, and he often found it before the rest of us. His wit was so quick. If you werent able to attend last nights celebration, you missed a great story about a band rehearsal [rubber glove story]. What was great about Chris, though, is that his pranks were never mean. No one ever got hurt, and the subject of the joke was always left laughing the hardest. Its a special person who can refuse to take himself too seriously, cause those around him to do the same, and somehow ensure that everyone present carries with them a funny story but no scar. Chris was an excellent musician. Although he chose to pursue a more stable career, one by which he could support his family with comfort, he was as talented as any. He could have turned pro at any time. A multi-instrumentalist, Chris understood music on not just a technical level but in the place that all good music resides his heart. His unique talent was in evidence early. His band director is here. Rick Moreno tells a story in which an eleven-year-old Chris would so often answer for the other sections in the band that he had to ask Chris to stop. Music, along with most things, came so easily to Chris that he couldnt help but be bored while waiting for the rest of us to catch up. After only a couple of months of beginning band, Chris had committed to memory the fingerings, transpositions and technical demands of every other instrument in the room as well as his, hence Mr. Morenos request: Chris, you have to stop answering questions directed at the trombones. His only responsea leisurely shrug and a (sigh)okay. At the end of that year, in an effort to keep the young genius engaged, Mr. Moreno gave Chris a bassoon, arguably the most difficult instrument to play. Moreno gave Chris the instrument, a fingering chart, and little else before sending him home for the summer. Dont get frustrated, Moreno said, well find you a private teacher when school starts. Just play around with it and see what you can figure out. Chris came back to school a couple of months later, and he knew how to play the bassoon. Who does that? Chris Conway does.

The precociousness that Chris displayed early on served him well in other areas over the years. A successful insurance agent, Chris seemed never to forget a phone number or a street address, let alone a face or a name. Early in their relationship, Chris told his wife Karen, in a conspiratorial tone and with the twinkle in his eye that we all came to love, Youll come to find that I am a veritable fount of knowledge. She did, and he was. Long before there was Siri or OnStar, there was Phone-a-Chris. Whether regarding local history, a piece of obscure music, a complicated insurance policy or even something as benign as Whos the best exterminator in town? Chris was often my first and only reference. Its telling that so many of his family and friends have admitted over the past few days that they have done as I have done. As we planned for last night and todays gatherings, I wasnt the only one who started to call Chris out of habit to ask his opinion or to solicit information. So many of us have leaned on Chris in so many ways for so long, and today is an opportunity for us to celebrate how fortunate we are to have had Chris in our lives. A big part of Chris legacy will forever be the Capital City Community Band. The CCCB was created in 1986 by Chris and seven others. Over the past thirty years, Chris nurtured the organization as it grew into an internationally recognized ensemble, one that is the pride of not only our city but also our beloved state. What started as a small idea in someones living room grew into a band that has been invited to perform by the local, state and federal governments and has been featured at the Kentucky Music Educators Association and Midwest Band and Orchestra conventions. Just less than two weeks ago, the CCCB returned to the Kentucky Music Educators convention and gave one of the best performances of which Ive ever been part, whether professional or volunteer and regardless of genre. Chris called me every day since that performance to rehash it, note by note. He was so proud of that concert and of what the Community Band had become. And he should have been make no mistake: Chris Conway was the Capitol City Community Band. The group wouldnt be here without him, and the beautiful music that will continue to accompany Frankfort life is a continuing gift from Frankforts favorite son. And in many ways he is Frankforts favorite son. Chris was proud to be from Frankfort. He loved his hometown, and, with apologies to those whose job it is to record and retell our history, I think Chris knew more about Frankfort than anyone. He was our unofficial historian. He knew the buildings, he knew who came from whom, he knew the gossip, he had the pictureshe took many of them himself. But even more so, Chris was proud to be a Conway. He knew from whom he came, and he was rightfully proud of the family that begot him. He was proud to

be Cindys son; he was proud to be the son of Doc. I feel as if I know Chris family well because of the many stories he told. We owe Chris family a great debt of gratitude for sharing so much of him with us. Chris was such a vital part of our community. Many people shared Chris in some important way, but family was sacred to him. Nothing took priority over Karen, Angela and Maria his parents and brothers, the Conways and the Bradfords. This fact was clearly in evidence every time and this happened often that I tried to get him to share his familys secret recipe for beer cheese. That stuff is amazing, and you can trust a guy my size when it comes to something as important ascheese. I literally begged and attempted to bribe, but whether it was something on this level or especially something admittedly more important, family came first. The protection and care of his family was an impenetrable wall through which the other parts of his life could not disturb. Your secret recipe is safe. One of the things Ill miss most is the early morning meals we shared. Chris would help get the girls to school, say bye to Karen as she left for work and then meet me for some deliciously unhealthy food. This would be breakfast for Chris; I would often have been up all night. Hed sip his morning coffee while Id yawn. Ill miss these moments very much. It was hard to be in public with Chris, because everyone knew him. There would be a constant stream of friends stopping by the table, and they all walked away laughing. In between visitors, Chris often talked about his family. He gleefully offered that he had married up, and he was as enamored with Karen after 24 years of marriage as he was when they first met. It would take a brilliant, kind, beautiful and funny woman to deserve Chris, and Karen is the only woman who could have captured his heart so. A common exchange would involve a story, told in the cleverest way, about something that Karen and Chris had said, done or otherwise experienced together. Id laugh at Chris storytelling as much as the situation in which they had found themselves and would often remark, You got a good woman. Youre a lucky man. His face always looked the same a small, satisfied grin as hed pause, look away slightly and reply simply, Yepyes, I am. Together, Chris and Karen gave to the world two beautiful daughters, and if he and I werent talking about Karen, Frankfort, music or our beloved Kentucky Wildcats, we were usually talking about Angela and Maria. Girls, youre old enough to know something: as you were growing up, there were times in which your father felt a paternal duty to caution you, sometimes even to scold you, and very rarely to attempt to discipline all with a straight face. It was his duty to do so, and he usually kept these moments in confidence. But, occasionally, he would tell me about it, and he would often tell the story with such glee and even sometimes awe

at what you had done, said or even said back to him. On the rare occasion in which you argued with your father, you countered him not with the sullen obstinacy that marks so many others at that age but with incisive logic and clear language, sometimes forcing your father to rely on the old parental standby, because I said so. Your father would laugh so hard as hed say, Well, you gotta admitshe got me on that one. Oh heavens, I told him once, your daughters are just like you. Theyre made of the same stuff. World beware, hed reply laughingly. You are such wonderful young women. You were easy and a joy to raise a credit and source of immeasurable pride to your parents. He was so proud of you. We all are. There are a lot of people here today, and many more who wish they could be. Were here to celebrate the extraordinary life of man that cant be forgotten. And what a gift it must be to be his mother, his brother, his cherished wife, his beloved daughter. How amazing it must be to be the wife or daughter of a man whose name everyone knows. Karen, his queen, Angela and Maria, his princesses Frankfort royalty, the Kingdom of Elwood. Though his time with us was too short, our friend lived a hundred years of life in only 49, and experienced more, learned about more, connected with more than most of us could in several lifetimes. To his family: you, too, are loved. We all wish we could protect you from the sadness of this loss, even more than we wish we could be less sad ourselves. Unfortunately, as we know, time moves at its own pace, and only time can salve certain wounds. There will come a day, and itll come sooner than you might think, when the first thought of your husband or father wont bring a tear but will bring a laugh. Soon, our incredible sense of loss will abate and leave the most beautiful memories of good times lives spent loving and being loved by a great man. How fortunate we are to have known him. And though we will mourn for a time, and though our hearts will forever carry the scar of loss, this is our collective promise to you: you will be sad for a time, but youll never be alone. This city, Chris many friends and your tightknit family we love Chris, and we love you. We will experience this loss together, we will see ourselves through this grief together, we will continue to experience the joys of life together adorned with wonderful memories of Chris. Just as he would want, and just as he would expect.

God bless Chris Conway. God bless you.

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