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William G. Conner Jr., retired NOAA marine scientist, dies

William G. Conner Jr. worked on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
William G. Conner Jr. worked on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

William G. Conner Jr., a retired marine scientist who worked nearly three decades for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, died of cancer Wednesday at Frederick Health Hospital in Frederick. The Mount Airy resident was 72.

William Garnett Conner Jr., son of William G. Conner Sr., a printer, and his wife, Jane Meeth Conner, a Rouse Co. secretary, was born in Baltimore and moved with his family to Ellicott City. He graduated from Howard High School, where he was Student Council president.

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Dr. Conner graduated in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences from the Johns Hopkins University and obtained his Ph.D. in marine biology in 1977 from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

After working briefly for the Smithsonian Oceanographic Sorting Center, in 1981 he joined NOAA, where he led the Damage Assessment Center and subsequently the National Response Team.

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Dr. Conner worked on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest marine oil spill in history, and was a supporter of the BP response effort.

He retired in 2011.

An Eagle Scout, Dr. Conner was scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 1023 at Providence United Methodist Church in Kemptown, Frederick County. He was also an active member of GMOM — Get Money Out of Maryland — which petitions the state legislature to get money out of politics, said his wife of 50 years, the former Berkeley Ann Wrobel.

Dr. Conner was a fan of auto racing and enjoyed racing his car at Summit Motorsports Park in Summit Park, West Virginia.

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Services are private.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Andrew William Conner of Sparks and Robert Michael Conner of Clifton, Virginia; a daughter, Emily Jane Conner of Hampden; three sisters, Kathleen Revelle of Fulton, Barbara Moreland of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, and Sarah Duda of New Bern, North Carolina; and three grandchildren.

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