Michael Connor certainly kept a high profile.
He made the transition from college graduate to Marine Corps helicopter pilot and then to a job in creative advertising at Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.
Mr. Connor stayed at Firestone for 34 years, rising to senior executive in marketing and public relations, with a particular interest in sports marketing. He then went on to become commissioner of the Professional Bowlers Association in Akron.
Along the way he found time to head the Akron Regional Development Board and was president of the Akron Roundtable and president of the board of trustees of Akron Golf Charities. He served as a trustee for Akron City Hospital, Akron Community Foundation, Akron-Canton Regional Airport and other organizations. He was chairman of the American Golf Classic and liaison between the Professional Golf Association and tournaments at Firestone Country Club.
Mr. Connor died Sunday following a short illness. He was 81.
“He was a classic gentleman,” said Bob Troyer, a retired Firestone public relations executive who noted that Mr. Connor hired him. “He was fiercely loyal to Firestone. He represented the company very well.”
Mr. Connor had a passion for golf and got to know some of the game’s greatest golfers through Firestone’s sports marketing, Troyer said.
“He was the company’s chief liaison for those things,” Troyer said. “He really enjoyed the people, the golfers, the volunteers. He was just a great ambassador for the company.”
Mr. Connor also worked hard in his volunteer positions at Akron community organizations, Troyer said.
Mr. Connor was the son of James and Edith Connor and grew up in Cuyahoga Falls. He attended St. Vincent High School in Akron and later earned his bachelor of science degree in journalism from Northwestern University, where he was also in the Navy ROTC program.
After graduating from Northwestern, he was commissioned in the Marine Corps and became a helicopter pilot at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida. He was stationed as a pilot in El Toro, Calif.
After leaving the Marine Corps, Mr. Connor joined Firestone. When he retired from the rubber company, he became commissioner of the bowlers association in 1992, at age 58.
During his three-year tenure as commissioner, he is credited with improving the group’s sponsorships and visibility.
“It was a wonderful experience,” he told the Akron Beacon Journal in 1995. “It was time for me to cut back. There is a lot of travel in the job, and now I will have more time to do some of the things I want to do.”
That included splitting time between living in Akron and Vero Beach, Fla., with his wife, Patricia. He also liked going to Lake Mohawk near Malvern, southeast of Canton.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his son, Christopher Connor of Hunting Valley; daughters Tricia Connor Selio Arnold and Colleen Connor Coyne, both of Hudson; their respective spouses; and grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his brother, Joseph, and sisters Patricia Connor Anderson and Laura Connor.
Calling hours were Tuesday at Hummel Funeral Home in Akron. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. today at St. Hilary Catholic Church, 2750 W. Market St., Fairlawn, followed by interment at Holy Cross cemetery.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or email@example.com.