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Christopher C. ‘Connor’ Wills, a financial client service and marketing analyst who had been a champion state swimmer, dies

Christopher C. “Connor” Wills was a Maryland state champion in each of his four seasons swimming for the Gilman School.
Christopher C. “Connor” Wills was a Maryland state champion in each of his four seasons swimming for the Gilman School.

Christopher C. “Connor” Wills, a former financial client service and marketing analyst who had been a champion state swimmer, died of glioblastoma Nov. 30 at his West Palm Beach, Florida, home. The former Cedarcroft and Ruxton resident who had lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, was 33.

“His death is such a tragedy and was a life cut short. Now, we will never know what kind of husband or father he would have been,” said John R. Devine, an uncle, who lives in Homeland. “He faded from us every day, but he never complained. He accepted his fate and fought through all the way to the end. I was with him when he died and I told his caregivers he was both a gentleman and a gentle man.”

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“We were just good buddies,” said Gregory F. Kenny, a Greenwich friend. “He was a loyal guy who was easy to get along with. Connor was very bright and serious-minded, and an exceptional athlete who was not outspoken about it at all.”

He added: “He was just genuine and had no agenda or ego. He was always very levelheaded and calm.”

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Christopher Connor Wills, known as Connor, was the son of Christopher R. Wills, a financial consultant, and his wife, Mary “Sisi” Connor Wills, who worked in real estate sales. He was born in Baltimore and raised on Gittings Avenue in Cedarcroft and Circle Road in Ruxton.

After graduating in 2007 from the Gilman School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in 2011 from the University of Notre Dame.

Mr. Wills began swimming at the age of 7 when he and his family were living in Harford County, and he joined a local swim club. He later transferred to the Greater Baltimore Swim Association before joining the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where he trained for the next seven years.

“Connor and I started swimming together when we were 10,” said Shaun P. Weinberg, of Washington, who also was an NBAC member. “Even though he was very competitive in the pool, we became best friends. He was very silent, humble and intensely competitive in the pool, but never lost sight of what those around him were trying to do.”

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“High school swimming in Baltimore wasn’t serious, not like it is in the Midwest,” Mr. Wills told The Observer, a Notre Dame newspaper. “On the East Coast it’s all about club swimming, so North Baltimore Aquatic Club was basically my high school team.”

While a student at Gilman, he was a varsity swimmer for four years, and later swam for four years on Notre Dame’s varsity team.

He held several varsity swimming records at Gilman for 15 years and was the 86th-ranked recruit by CollegeSwimming.com. During his high school years, he was ranked in the top five of Maryland swimmers for seven different strokes and ranked sixth nationally in the 200-meter backstroke.

Mr. Wills was also a four-time high school All-American and a Maryland state champion in each of his four seasons.

At Notre Dame, he qualified for the 2008 Olympic trials in the 200-meter butterfly and was a member of the team that won two Big East Conference championships. He was a four-time Notre Dame Monogram winner and exited the program as the third-best performer in the 100-meter backstroke and the fifth-best performer in the 200-meter backstroke in school history, according to a biography submitted by his family.

Mr. Wills was also the first male swimmer from the NBAC to qualify for the Olympic trials after Rodgers Forge resident and Olympic star Michael Phelps, family members said.

“I raced right next to him a handful of times at local Maryland meets, which was pretty special,” Mr. Wills explained in the Notre Dame interview. “The videos should be cool to look back at in a few years.”

Mr. Devine said: “He was quiet, calm, and nothing ever rattled him. And as a swimmer, he never, ever bragged about his accomplishments, and if you wanted to know, you had to interrogate him. He loved swimming and was always focused.

“He was a quiet, loving boy who was stable, competent and focused, plus he had a good sense of humor.”

Said Mr. Weinberg: “Connor was extremely talented and hardworking, and whatever he put his mind to, he accomplished it.”

After graduating from Notre Dame, Mr. Wills went to work in Greenwich as a client service and marketing analyst at Cardinal Capital Management LLC, where he worked until 2013 when his health began to fail. In 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, he moved to West Palm Beach.

He was a former member of Grace Fellowship Church in Timonium.

Funeral services were held Dec. 8 at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

In addition to Mr. Devine, Mr. Wills is survived by his mother, Mary “Sisi” C. Wills of West Palm Beach; two sisters, Mary Katherine “Molly” Wills and Grace Wills, both of West Palm Beach; paternal grandmother, Sister Grace Anne Wills, Third Order Regular of St. Francis, of Steubenville, Ohio; maternal grandmother, Jean L. Connor of Naples, Florida; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

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