Florence’s beloved centenarian, Willard Conrow, died on March 16 as the result of a fall during one of his daily walks to pick up litter. Rain or shine, Willard could be seen making his rounds from his Shorewood residence down 15th Street and along Highway 101. He was always quick to greet people with a smile and to pull an extra dog biscuit from his pocket for one of his canine friends.
People who knew him well would say that he always did things “My Way.” Whether it was living in a travel trailer for years, camping for weeks with his wife, Eleanor, and his three boys, building a sailboat with the intent of sailing around the world, eating lunch at Benny’s restaurant, or reading to a blind friend, Willard did things his way.
Willard was born Aug. 30, 1912, in Cranford, N.J. He grew up in New York and Florida. He and his own family lived all over the country. He retired from Northrup Aircraft and Engineering as an optical engineer.
During his long life, Willard contributed immeasurably to his community. His service to Florence took many forms: he helped out in the soup kitchen, visited friends in the hospital, and donated one of his own framed photos for every new Habitat for Humanity house that was built.
Willard toted his “newfangled” digital camera wherever he went. His photographic career began during World War II when he was stationed in Guam, continued through a teaching career, and culminated in his 2012 photo exhibit at the public library celebrating his 100th birthday.
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