Obituaries

William “Babe” Conroy

William "Babe" ConroyWilliam “Babe” Conroy, 67, passed away peacefully Saturday at Shenandoah Senior Living Community after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease. While the disease affected Babe’s everyday functions, it in no way diminished his spirit for life, his wit and his never-ending love for his family.

Born Jan. 24, 1948, he was a son of the late Anthony and Eleanor Garrity Conroy. He was a lifetime resident of the villages of William Penn and Lost Creek.

He was a 1965 graduate of the former Immaculate Heart High School and attended both Allentown College and the Temple University School of Journalism.

He was of the Catholic faith and a member of St. Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Parish, Lost Creek.

His loving wife, Ann Louise, Lost Creek, who compassionately cared for and loved him to the very end, survives Babe. They recently celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary on Feb. 5.

Also surviving are four sons, Bill (Pam), Raven Run, Jim (Renee), Clermont, Fla., Brian, Shenandoah and Chris, Shenandoah; relatives and friends. The joy of Babe’s life was spending time with his grandchildren Kelsey, Abby, Will, Emily and McKenzie. Frequent visits, as well as attending their sporting and school events, brought happiness to his day.

Babe enjoyed a distinguished journalism and sports career throughout his full life. He was the sports editor at the former Shenandoah Evening Herald from 1971-76 and 1981-95. In 1995, he became the chief correspondent for the Northern Schuylkill office of the Hazleton Standard Speaker, then promoted to bureau chief in 1996. Later in 1996, he was appointed sports editor of the Standard Speaker, a position he held until his retirement in 2005. Babe also served as the Schuylkill County bureau chief for the Lebanon Daily News from 1979-81.

During his distinguished news career, Babe received numerous journalism awards. The late state Sen. James J. Rhoades also ap-pointed him to PIAA State Subcommittee.

He had the uncanny ability to articulate and encapsulate a story like no other. Getting a child’s name in the paper was his number one priority, whether it be the team star or the role player.

Babe was especially thankful to the Walser family and the Standard Speaker in the way they professionally conducted their consideration and hiring of him and other co-workers upon the closing of the Evening Herald.

Babe also owned and operated Babe’s Bar in Lost Creek from 1976-79, a fun-filled, story-rich establishment which served as a community gathering spot for many in the area. He also entertained hundreds at the yearly Lost Creek Minstrel shows at St. Mary Magdalen Parish.

Babe’s career in local athletics started at Cardinal Brennan High School, where he served as an assistant boys’ basketball coach from 1980-82. In 1984, he was named head baseball coach at Shenandoah Valley High School, a position he held until 1999.

During his tenure at SV, he compiled a 179-156 overall record. In 1987, his Blue Devils reached the district playoffs for the first time since 1969 and also ended a 44-game winning streak by Schuylkill Haven, coached by his friend and competitor, Scott Buffington. When Babe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Coach Buffington was the first to send a card to Babe, wishing him well.

Success quickly followed for the Blue Devils as the 1988 squad clinched the Division II title. Both his 1988 and ’89 teams finished as District 11 PIAA Class AA runners-up. The 1989 team set a school record with an 18-game winning streak. In 1999, the Blue Devils finished as the District 11 PIAA runner-up.

Blue Devils

In 2003, Babe was elected to the Northern Anthracite Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was elected into the Shenandoah Valley Athletic Hall of Fame and in 2013, he was enshrined into the inaugural class of the Schuylkill County Coaches Association Baseball Hall of Fame.

Another chapter in Babe’s life was his love for the horses, or the “ponies,” as he often referred. A highlight in his handicapping career came in 1986, when he finished second in the World Series of Handicapping at Penn National Race Course, claiming a trophy, which donned the front page of the Evening Herald as well as a check for $30,000. He enjoyed talking about sports, handicapping and complaining about the Phillies with his best friends, Mick Jacavage and Sammy Matta.

He was a passionate fan of the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Phillies, Notre Dame Football and Shenandoah Valley athletics.

Babe will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, relative, coach, writer and friend. Not once did he complain about having a debilitating disease; rather, he cherished the time he had and fought to the very end. There are so many times to cherish while he was on this earth and so many stories about “The Babe” that will linger in local lore for many years to come.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday from Walukiewicz-Oravitz Fell Funeral Home, 132 S. Jardin St., Shenandoah. A Mass of Christian Burial will then be celebrated at 11 a.m. in Divine Mercy Church, 232 W. Cherry St., Shenandoah. Monsignor Ronald C. Bocian, pastor, will officiate. Interment will follow in Annunciation BVM Cemetery, Shenandoah Heights.

Relatives and friends are invited to call from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy can be made to Shenandoah Valley Baseball, 805 W. Centre St. Shenandoah PA 17976.

Walukiewicz-Oravitz Fell Funeral Home, Shenandoah, is in charge of arrangements.

William “Babe” Conroy Has 14 Condolences Posted:

  1. Fred and Robin Willey says:

    Dear Ann Louise and family, We were very sorry to hear of Babes passing. He was truly one of a kind and will be missed by many. Please know that you and the boys have our sympathy and prayers. Fred and Robin Willey

  2. Katie Isgate says:

    Dear Pam, Bill, Abby, William and extended family:
    My sincere and compassionate condolences go out to you all for the loss of “Babe”. He was a sweet, funny man whom I had the pleasure of meeting during some of his therapy. What a wonderful expression of love and admiration was written through his obituary, and what a life he had!!! I know you will all miss him, but can also be Blessed in the thoughts and memories that he has has left you. Peace be with you all, and God Bless.

    Sincerely,
    Katie

  3. John Lazur says:

    With a heavy heart, I am responding after reading about the passing of Babe. I have very fond memories. Please accept my sincere condolences.

  4. Jim Breslosky says:

    My condolences to the Conroy family on the loss of The Babe. I have never met such a person that was always truly fun to be around. He always a knack to make people laugh.
    I will remember forever all the great times at the Shenandoah Valley games and being around your father. There is only one BABE.

  5. Marion "Val" Valanoski says:

    My I offer my sincerest condolences for the loss of both your husband and father. As a fellow sports writer words cannot describe how Babe lent his knowledge of the job to many of us “newbie” scribes and once you were a friend of Babe it was forever. I had the pleasure of knowing him as both a coach, fellow writer and I believe boss and he was a champ in all areas and the sports world of journalism has truly lost a great man.

    May it be my final gesture in saying “Thank You” Babe for being who you were to all of us.

    Sincerely

    Marion “Val” Valanoski

  6. Charlie Reh says:

    Babe wasn’t only a great sports writer, he was a great person who brought joy into the lives of everyone he met. My deepest condolences.
    Charlie Reh

  7. Tim & Stephanie Mills says:

    Jim, Renee and family,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Although we never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Conroy, he obviously left a wonderful legacy, and touched the lives of many during his journey through life. May the Lord comfort you in the days to come.

    Love,

    Tim & Steph

  8. Mary Ann Link says:

    What a wonderful man he was. They don’t come much better than Babe. A true friend to all who knew him well. Hopefully he saves me a seat in the chorus when he does his annual Minstrel Show in Heaven. I will truly miss his sense of humor.

  9. Joyce (Miersky) Eisenhauer says:

    So sorry to hear of Babe’s passing. God Bless all of you. Take care Anne Louise.

  10. HALUPA FAMILY says:

    TO BILL, PAM, ABBY AND WILL. OUR SINCEREST CONDOLENCES TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY . HOW DIFFICULT THIS TIME IS AND OUR HEARTFELT SYMPATHY AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU. MAY THE COMFORT OF THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD BE WITH YOU IN A DEEP ABIDING WAY IN THESE DAYS AS YOU GRIEVE YOUR LOSS.MAY ALL THE MEMORIES HE GAVE YOU, WHICH WERE MANY, PUT THE SMILE BACK ON YOUR FACES.

  11. Nicole Stauffer says:

    Dear Ann Louise, Bill, Jim, Brian, Chris and extended family,

    Babe was a dear man who always showed such kindness to me as a kid growing up in Shenandoah. As an athlete, he encouraged me, and as a friend and classmate of Jim’s, he always shared a great sense of humor and kindness with me. I mourn with you the loss of a great man. May you find comfort in the love and kindness of others, and may God bless you in the coming days and weeks.

    Sincerely,
    Nicole Morris-Stauffer

  12. Brenda O'Brien-O'Rourke says:

    Ann Louise, Bill, Jim, Brian & Chris, My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all of you. Know you are all in my thoughts and prayers during this time of sorrow and loss. Babe is a true legend who’s life will be remembered and thought of for years to come. As we all will mourn his passing may we also celebrate a life well lived. We will cherish the memories forever. Rest in Peace Babe !! -

  13. Del Hauck says:

    I am honored to be able to call Babe a friend. The times we had during the Miners Devils baseball games were the greatest. He called me Leyland and I called him Fregosi. Without a doubt one of the finest men I ever met. My condolences to all of his wonderful family. Del Hauck

  14. John Boyer says:

    I got to meet Babe when I worked in Shenandoah back in the 80′s. He quickly became one of my favorite people as we would talk about sports and life in general. Whenever I drive through William Penn & Lost Creek I always think of the Babe. I always say the best thing one can say about someone is that they are a “good man”. Well, Babe truly was a good man. My condolences to the family. John Boyer