Pasco, Washington, juice grape grower Lonnie Conner, who devoted much of his life to industry and community affairs, died February 19 after a brief illness. He was 84.
Conner, born in Kellogg, Idaho, served in the U.S. Army Infantry 94th Division from 1944 to 1946 and received a Bronze Star for his bravery. After graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in mechanical engineering, Conner and his wife Mary Doris moved to Pasco where they bought a farm that included a Concord grape vineyard. He retired from work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in 1976 to farm full time.
Conner served on the board of directors of the National Grape Cooperative (Welch’s grape juice) for 25 years, was on the board of the Benton-Franklin County Fair, and a member of the Franklin County Open Spaces Advisory Committee. He was an active member of the Washington State Grape Society and received both its Walter Clore Award in 1992 for industry service and the Lloyd Porter Grape Grower Award in 2000.
Also, he was a Franklin County Agricultural Hall of Fame inductee for his contributions to the grape industry. The Kiwanis Club of Pasco recognized his industry involvement and presented Conner and his wife with its Agriculture Award in 1991.
Conner was also involved in statewide issues and represented the Washington State Grange by serving on the Governor’s transition team in 1984. He was a member of the Governor’s Council on Agriculture and the Environment in 1994.