Obituary of Byron Edwin Conner, MD
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. Isaiah 58:8
Byron Edwin Conner was born on January 25, 1947, in Denver, Colorado. He was the first of eleven children (six boys and five girls) born to Evelyn Thomas and Marvin Conner. Growing up, he was a devoted brother and son, always committed to being a role model and example in his Christian walk with God. His genuine faith and love for God was evident at an early age of 9 years old. He loved his church family at Denver Park Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church (formerly Beth Haven SDA Church). He was baptized at eleven years of age and participated in Pathfinders and many of the church’s other youth activities. During this time, he entered a contest at church in which he had to recite all the Books of the Bible. Byron successfully named all of Old and New Testament books of the bible from memory. Pastor Cecil Miles, awarded him his first Bible. A few of the devout church members noticed his potential and eagerness to learn about God. They became his mentors and encouraged him to aim high in setting goals and the importance of having a relationship with Jesus. He attributes him and his family joining the church to Sister Cleo Brown.
Byron attended Columbine Elementary School and completed middle school at Smiley Junior High School. He attended Mile High Academy for his sophomore and junior years and went on to East High School, from which he graduated in 1965.
He attended Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska from January 1966-May/1966 until he received a notice that he was being drafted into military service with the United States Army. He served as a medic in the and was stationed in Vietnam from April 16, 1968 -April 15, 1970. When he returned to the U.S. after completing his military service, he had a new perspective and desire to give back to those who were less fortunate. He contemplated whether to study Theology or Medicine. He eventually decided to pursue Theology and returned to Union College to complete his studies from September 1970-May 1972. As he continued his studies, he developed an even deeper sense of obligation to help poor and marginalized people in need.
Once Byron returned home, he continued to attend church. One evening after prayer meeting, he met a young woman in the church parking lot. Her name was Alfredia Spigner, from San Bernardino, California. After dating for one month, they married in San Bernardino, California, on February 25, 1973. From this union they had two children, Kellie Renae Conner, and Kevin Maurice Conner. His plans after getting married was to attend Oakwood College to study Theology until God spoke to him and told him he was to study medicine.
He attended San Bernardino Valley College from June 1973 to August 1973 to complete his prerequisite studies. On September 1974-March 1976, he attended California State University at San Bernardino where he graduated with a BA in Biology. Byron entered medical school at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California March 1976-May 1979, where he graduated with his Doctor of Medicine degree. He always felt very strongly that God ordained his steps and provided for all his needs as he completed all of his studies.
After medical school, Byron completed his internship and residency at St. Joseph Hospital from June 1979-June 1982. He did not know where God would lead him next.
A Life of Service
From 1982-1984, he received the opportunity to be of service to the Indigenous, immigrant farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley, California. This gave him the desire to continue this type of work and continue to give back to those in the community.
Many nights he had insomnia, and he would stay up late watching T.V. He was always intrigued when he would see commercials for World Vision and the work that was being done by this organization to help the emaciated famine victims in Ethiopia. He could not get these images out of his mind. One day, he made a call to the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventist Church at the General Conference and inquired about serving as a missionary. He applied, was accepted, and in August 1984, he and his wife and children moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where they remained until August 1987.
During his time there, he served as the Health and Temperance Director for the Ethiopian Union Mission. He spent six months in Mekele, where the worst famine in Ethiopia’s history was taking place. He provided the people with medical care and famine relief. They were incredibly grateful to him, many of whom would walk long distances to seek treatment for life-threatening illnesses that are common during a famine.
After his return to the United States, Byron remained very enthusiastic about his experiences in Ethiopia. He knew that God had another plan for his life, and He gave him a vision of what he was to do. Byron continued to serve in the church as a Sabbath School teacher, First Elder, and Health Ministry Leader. He also felt compelled to write and publish a book about his experiences overseas. He wrote a book titled "The Face of Hunger,” which was published in 2019. He also wrote articles on a variety of health issues and was monthly contributor to the local Body of Christ Newspaper.
He and his wife also established and collaborated with many organizations that benefited communities of color whose focus was to address healthcare disparities. His focus was to provide education regarding issues such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes, AIDS, smoking cessation, and addiction recovery. In 2012, he started the Barbershop/Salon program ministry to fourteen shops under the umbrella of Colorado Black Health Collaborative. This program consists of screening for hypertension and diabetes in the barbershop/salons with health counseling to encourage people to see their doctors. His enthusiasm for serving the community never waned.
He served as the Health and Temperance Director for the Central States Conference for 5 years 2015-2020.
He received many awards for his service. The two most distinguished were the Doctor Bernard Gibson Senior Health Leadership award for exceptional qualities as a physician. Also, he received the Colorado Permanente Medical Group award from Colorado Permanente Medical Group.
Dr. Conner is survived by his wife, Alfredia; his daughter, Kellie Conner; his son, Kevin Conner and Christine, daughter-in-law ; his grandchildren, Andre Conner, Ken Page, Mya McCullough, Olivia Colbert his great niece, whom he calls his granddaughter, and Raquel Conner. Also, his sisters, Sandra Conner, Athalea Conner-Caine, Yvonne Conner, and Cynthia Goyang-Conner live in Texas. His brothers, Reginald Conner, Randall Conner, Sr., and Glenn Conner. many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents Marvin Conner and Evelyn Conner and his sister, Valarie Conner, his two brothers, Alden Conner, and Marlon Conner. And nephews, Roderick Caine and Ricky Garner.
A Visitation will be held on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 from 12pm to 4pm at Horan & McConaty, 11150 E. Dartmouth Ave. Aurora, CO.
Funeral Service is on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023 at 2pm at Denver Park Hill SDA Church, 3385 Albion St. Denver, CO. For guests unable to attend in person, you may attend via live-stream at Denver Park Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church - YouTube
Military Honors at a Graveside Service on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023 at 11:30am at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
Please share memories of Byron and condolences with his family by signing the online guest book below.