Gene Conard

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.

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  1. Greg Lucas says:

    As we age and are perhaps further apart memories of only part of one’s life are remembered by some. I remember Gene Conard as a wonderful writer and supporter of local sports in Kokomo who probably could have easily gotten on a career path taking him to much larger markets, but he didn’t need them. He was very happy where he was. Great for Kokomo. In his early coaching days he was one of my baseball coaches. Later, after my dad died he penned a very moving piece in the “The Sports Pages”, a predecessor of “The Sports Journal.” Later when I took the radio play by play job with the Indiana Pacers for a season he did a full spread on me. I have both his piece on my dad and the Pacer long article in frames at my home office here in Houston 30 years later. I regret Gene was too ill to attend the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony last fall. I would have very much liked to have seen him. Alas, I was also unaware of how seriously ill he was. In addition to his writing (and baseball coaching/managing) skills Gene was a very nice and funny man. I am sorry for his passing, but also sorry not everyone got to know him. Those that knew him far better than me know what I am talking about.

  2. Basil Mawbey says:

    Geno was one of the very best writer I have ever been involved with! He always could find an angle to make the game a very interesting read.
    When I came to Kokomo in 1986 the Sports Page was a great publication that was great for sports teams . His story about my family is on the wall of my den!
    I missed Gene covering my games this year. He will be missd!!
    Coach Mawbey

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