Editor’s note: On Feb. 17 Northern Life hosted the eighth annual Community Builders Awards of Excellence. This is the last of the winners’ profiles, which have been published in the Thursday editions of Northern Life. For a complete list of winners, go to www.cbawards.ca.
Ted Conroy said his wife, Jeanne, is as able as any man. He spoke about her abilities as an angler, but he could easily be talking about her accomplishments as a community leader.
Jeanne Warwick Conroy is not a feminist, and yet she is the perfect example of a woman who can do everything as well as, or better, than a man. And for women of her generation, this is a supreme compliment.
She followed a traditional path as a young woman and chose nursing as a career. After studying to complete a bachelor of science at the University of Western Ontario, she got married and had children. She was a stay-at-home mom who enjoyed volunteer work.
“It was not until my children left home and I started the Diet Center with Helen Ghent that I became well known in the community,” she said.
That was in 1985. She made up for lost time and has literally done it all. She didn’t dabble in community service work; she embraced it. She was the first female president of the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. She took an active part in Careers 2000 and The Next Ten Years initiative. She recruited volunteers and raised money for United Way, served on the board of governors at Laurentian University, and was chair of the Sudbury Regional Police Board. She fundraised for the hospital, St. Joseph’s Villa and St. Andrew’s United Church. She is currently on the grant review team for the Trillium Foundation.
Conroy has style and panache. In everything she’s does, she is a first-rate ambassador for the city. And somehow, she manages to find time to enjoy her passions: tennis, skiing, duplicate bridge, collecting antiques and travelling.
“With Jeanne Elizabeth, there is no down time,” her husband, her biggest fan, said.
In his letter confirming her nomination for the Community Builders Hall of Fame award, Gerry Lougheed Jr., wrote, “I have known Jeanne Warwick Conroy for over 30 years. She is the definition of a community builder. Her leadership and hard work have benefited numerous worthy causes and individuals in the community...She leads by example, inspiring others to build a better future.
“On a personal note, she is a very caring and compassionate person whose light dispels the darkness of this weary world for many people...I recall her hosting a New Year’s dinner, complete with formal wear and bridge-playing until the stroke of midnight for a cancer patient’s last New Year’s.”
Conroy does not seek public attention for her good works. She is generally surprised when she is called into the spotlight to receive an award for her efforts. When she received the Rotary Club’s highest honour, the Paul Harris Award in 2006, the reception room was packed; yet, Conroy said she was worried no one would attend.
In November 2010, she won the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship. She told a reporter she was “thunderstruck” by the news. “I couldn’t believe it was Maria from the office of the lieutenant governor calling to tell me I’d won the award.”
Conroy has been named an Influential Woman of Northern Ontario, and she has won the prestigious Bernadine Yackman Award from the Sudbury Business and Professional Women’s Club.
On being inducted into the CBA Hall of Fame, Conroy said, “I feel very undeserving of this award as I am aware of the superlative qualities of earlier recipients. It is a tremendous honour.
“I would like to thank my daughter, Mary-Liz, for nominating me; Gerry Lougheed Jr., and Melanie Kanerva, chair of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, for their support; and last but not least, my dear, darling husband who puts up with all my various endeavours and never complains.”