Jean Conover was completely surprised Friday, November 8, when she was awarded a Church Women United (CWU) Valiant Woman Award during the World Community Day Celebration at Nunnawauk Meadows Community Room. More than 30 residents and CWU members were there for the annual celebration hosted by the Newtown and Greater Danbury unit of CWU.
The Reverend Leo McIlrath made the award on behalf of CWU. He has known Ms Conover and her family since they were students at St Peter’s School and Danbury High School.
The presentation followed the panel speakers, Deacon Kenneth Stroud of St Rose Roman Catholic Church, who was introduced by Ms Conover, and Charlotte Dines, a Nunnawauk resident, who was introduced by Linda Manganaro, CWU Celebrations chairman and executive director of Nunnawauk Meadows. Both spoke of how their faith had sustained them through great trials.
Deacon Stroud was a member of the World War II British RAF and spent 3½ years in a Japanese prison camp. An Anglican who began his religious journey when he was only 7 years old, he converted to Catholicism when he met his wife Pat. MrsStroud was an active member of CWU and St Rose before her death. His son, Adrian, encouraged him to share his experiences in a book, Prisoner of War Number 2378. Copies of the book were available for purchase.
Mrs Dines credited her Jewish faith, the support of her late husband who was in research in the pharmaceutical industry, and the National Institute of Health (NIH) website for her success 35 years ago, in fighting cancer. She said the NIH could connect one with a specific research program on a specific cancer. Because of her husband’s work, she had traveled extensively and seen poverty and hardship. She also recommended the Jewish Federation that has helped her with other challenges. She says the federation is a good source for anyone, of any religion. She decided to celebrate living.
“Contentment is not fulfilling everything you want, but the realization of what you already have,” she said.
Rev McIlrath got some laughs and tears as he gave insight to Mrs Conover’s beauty, inside and out.
Mrs Conover has been with CWU for more than a decade and is vice president of the unit. She is a facilitator at Ann’s Place, an agency for cancer survivors. She is a graduate of Western Connecticut College (now University) and spent years as a high school counselor in Somers, N.Y.
She has two children and two grandchildren, and is the recent widow of Frank Conover.