At 6-foot-4, John Conlon was a big guy with a big heart.
He was quiet and gentle, according to his family, but he also had a penchant for doing things in a big way.
Case in point: Conlon once surprised his children before a family trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Not that they were going — that was known. The surprise was how they were going to get there.
“He surprised them with a private jet,” said his wife of 18 years, Hannah. “Yes, he did. I’m still in shock over it. He rocked my socks off when he pulled that number. How he got the jet? I don’t know.”
Conlon, a resident of Massapequa, died on May 7 at age 77 due to complications from COVID-19, according to his family.
“A gentle man,” said Hannah’s sister, Claire Krussmann, of Wantagh. “A quiet man. A generous man.”
Conlon grew up in Middle Village, Queens, and served in the U.S. Army. He was a printer (like his father) and then became a union officer in Local One Amalgamated Lithographers of America. After he retired, Conlon used his many contacts to become an insurance broker and started his own firm.
“He was just really a cool guy,” his wife said. “He was loved and respected by everyone in the business.”
An avid golfer, Conlon enjoyed visiting Myrtle Beach so much that the family eventually bought a house there.
“He just loved it there,” Hannah said. “He loved the kids coming down. It was just glorious, and the kids so looked forward to it. Twenty-some-odd people with the whole family. He was loving. That’s what comes to mind. Loving.”
Conlon is also survived by his children, Jackie Kemmerling of Levittown and Scott Conlon of Huntington; his stepchildren, Guy Cerbone of Freeport, Steven Cerbone of Oceanside and Dana Ecock of Brooklyn; his brother, Frank Conlon of Connecticut; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Conlon played shuffleboard and did crossword puzzles and the Jumble in Newsday, according to Hannah, an adjunct professor of health professions at Hofstra University and Nassau Community College.
“I have so many pictures of him sitting in his big man chair with the kids around him,” Hannah said. “He would throw the words out. It was really cute.”
A memorial service was held July 15 at Long Island National Cemetery in Pinelawn.