Gene F. Conard, Kokomo, died peacefully at St. Joseph Hospital, Kokomo, on March 22, 2015. Born in Elwood, IN. on Sept. 5, 1929, Gene was the son of John and Eva Conard. His parents and a brother, George, preceded him in death. Survivors include his special lady of over 50 years, Melda Prather of Kokomo.
Gene grew up in Elwood and graduated from Elwood High School before joining the U.S. Air Force. He served four years, much of his time being spent in England.
Upon his return to the states, he began his journalism career in 1958 at the Elwood Call-Leader before moving on to the sports department of the Kokomo Tribune. He later wrote sports for newspapers in Hamilton, Ohio, Frankfort, Crawfordsville and Noblesville before returning to Kokomo to work for The Sports Page, a weekly newspaper. He later wrote sports for the Tipton Tribune and Kokomo Tribune. While at the Kokomo Tribune in the 1960s, Conard covered a wide variety of major sporting events including the 1967 MLB World Series, the Indiana Pacers run of ABA championships and the career of local professional bowler Don Johnson.
While Gene had no children of his own, he spent nearly 60 years happily writing of kids’ sports exploits. Armed with a writing style lovingly embraced by his readers, Indiana’s best-dressed sportswriter covered a variety of youth sports. Among his favorite beats were the Kids Fishing Clinic and the Haynes-Apperson Kids Track Meet in Kokomo and most recently, Tri-Central High School sporting events. He especially enjoyed reporting the Lady Trojans three consecutive IHSAA Class A state basketball championships and the magical birth of the school’s football program that included a state title in 2013. Gene considered himself fortunate to be able to follow his passion for writing sports his entire adult life.
Despite being a long-suffering fan of the Chicago Cubs, Gene nonetheless maintained an immense love of baseball at all levels. He managed the Kokomo Highlanders semi-pro team from 1965-87, never suffering a losing season while winning seven state championships. Over the years, Gene remained close to his former players.
He has frequently been honored for his writing and/or coaching, most recently in 2007 with induction into the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame. He’s also had inductions from the Kokomo Bowling Association, Indiana Wrestling Coaches Association and Indiana Semi-Pro Baseball organization.
Given the opportunity today, Gene would thank his friends as well as staff members of Great Lakes Caring who spent considerable time assisting him in his final months.
A celebration of life funeral service will be at 1:00PM, Saturday, March 28, 2015, at Dunnichay Funeral Home in Elwood. Visitation will be Saturday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the funeral home. Interment will follow at the Elwood Cemetery with full Military honors conducted by the US Air Force Honor Guard. In lieu of flowers, donations in Gene’s name may be made to the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 749, Kokomo, IN., 46903-0749.