Linda W. Conner, a popular educator who had taught at Friends School and Jemicy School in Owings Mills, died Sunday of breast cancer at her Towson home.
She was 50.
Linda Wright was born at what is now the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Virginia and raised in Columbia. After graduating in 1979 from Wilde Lake High School, she earned a bachelor's degree in 1983 in international relations from the University of Delaware.
Ms. Conner worked in mortgage banking for the Bank of Baltimore before the birth of her daughter, eventually returning to work in 1999 when she took a job as an administrative assistant in the pre-primary office at Friends School in Baltimore.
Ms. Conner was later promoted to an associate teacher in the school's initial prefirst-grade class.
"I was looking at a teacher observation form that I did of Linda … and she began her class by saying, 'I'm going to close my eyes, and when I open them, I want to see a very beautiful circle,'" recalled Michelle Holland who is lower school principal at Friends.
"On her observation sheet, I wrote, 'Linda, it's great to watch you teach. You're quite a natural!' She had a vibrant, kind sprit, and she'll be missed," said Dr. Holland.
"She was a ball of enthusiasm and loved being at school and loved the children," said Dr. Holland. "She could teach a wide age-spread of children. She was very kind, loved to have fun, and smiled and laughed a lot."
Meredith Schlow, a former Evening Sun reporter and a longtime friend of Ms. Conner's, worked with her at Friends in the pre-primary department.
"My husband, who was working at home then, would drive our kids to school — we live 10 minutes away — and I wondered where he was. He told me they were hanging out in Linda's office before school having a really good time," said Ms. Schlow, who now teaches in the pre-kindergarten class at Friends, where she also assists in coaching the school's cross country team.
"She really was the most fun and the most engaging person in my life. Things were always better and brighter when she was around," she said. "There was nothing that Linda couldn't do. She loved teaching and had a gift for it. She was very creative and quick."
In 2008, Ms. Conner left Friends and joined the upper school faculty of the Jemicy School in Owings Mills, where she taught writing and directed the school's publishing class.
"This would have been Linda's fourth year at Jemicy. She was also responsible for our yearbook and literary magazine — I used to call her my 'utility infielder.' She was a jack-of-all-trades," said Marcia K. Walker, head of Jemicy's upper school.
"She'd always say, 'I will do whatever I have to, and I'll make it work,'" said Ms. Walker. "Nothing was ever too hard for Linda, who was utterly empathetic and expected excellence. She said that 'learning could be fun.' With her, everything was positive."
Ms. Conner was diagnosed a decade ago with the breast cancer that would eventually claim her life after being in remission for five years.
"Linda was very careful. She didn't walk around telling people how sick she was," said Ms. Schlow. "She was very courageous and remained herself until the end."
"Last Friday, students at Jemicy held a "Pink Day" and a bake sale in their former teacher's honor, collecting nearly $2,000 to be donated to breast cancer research," said Ms. Schlow.
"Their team, 'Conner's Crew,' will participate in Sunday's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Hunt Valley," she said. "The team's shirts were silk-screened by Jemicy students with an image of a cowboy hat, a nod to Ms. Conner's love of country music."
A woman of wide-ranging interests, Ms. Conner loved vacationing in Ocean City and "driving around in her old red Saab convertible," said Ms. Schlow.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday for Ms. Conner at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.
Surviving are three daughters, Mary Clare Conner, a sophomore at Temple University in Philadelphia, Anne Elizabeth Conner, a senior at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, and Margaret O'Hara "Meg" Conner, a sophomore at Friends; her father, Charles Wright of Columbia; her mother, Barbara Botens Wright of Columbia; a brother, Dale Wright of Columbia; and her companion of nine years, Mark Teeters of Catonsville. An earlier marriage to Mark O'Neil Conner ended in divorce.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun