John T. Conlan
May 5, 1939 - July 26, 2023
Born May 5, 1939, in Rochester, MN, and born to eternal life on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Elm Grove, WI, at the age of 84. Beloved life partner of Jeannie T. Hoefer. Dear son of the late Francis and Mildred (Campbell) Conlan. Loving father of James, Marcia (the late Gary) Gardocki, Mary (Stan) Bartkowski, Julia (Dan) Trudell, and Tom Conlan. Cherished Grandpa to Kelly (Tommy) Williams, Eric Gardocki (Tanya Martinez), and Natalie (Caleb) Miller. Great-Grandpa to Mila Miller and Monroe Gardocki.
Special Daddy to Dexter Darwin (AKA Killer). Proud brother of the late Joseph, Patrick (Dee) and the late Margaret Ann (Ray) Neis, Michael (Chris), Kathy (the late Ralph) Tredup, Rosemary (Tom) Strain, Dennis (Jeannie), Fred (Jan), Robert (Debbie), Steven (Judy), Kevin (Gayle), Lori (the late George) Messier, and special cousin to Billy (Misha) Conlan. Also survived by many other dear relatives and countless friends, preceded in death by his former wife, Phyllis (Ramsey) Conlan.
Please join us in remembering and celebrating the life of John Conlan with a visitation being held from 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Saturday, August 5, 2023, at the CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, 812 N. Jackson St, Milwaukee. Mass of Christian Burial will be held immediately following the visitation. Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery, 1201 St. Paul Street N.W. Preston, MN 55965 on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, at 2:00 PM with Deacon Terry Smith officiating.
WHAT A TRIP I'VE HAD
As the second oldest from a family of 13 (9 boys and 4 girls), the future looked bleak for this old altar boy. But I sure had a lot of ambition. I bought my first truck (on credit) when I was 15 years old and my first dragline when I was 17. I obtained my first construction contract, was married at 18 years of age, and was a father at 19. I bought a Dairy Mart in Clintonville, IA, and was offered a McDonald's franchise which was turned down by me!! Silly me.
I came to the Milwaukee area to work on Bong Airforce Base in early fall 1959 to provide trucks. Three days before they were to start pouring concrete for the runways, the project was abruptly shut down, leaving all construction "AS WAS" at that point of time (equipment was parked all over), and everyone, including me and my equipment, was out of work. I had licensed my equipment in Wisconsin (at substantial cost) and looked to find work utilizing that licensing and the drivers that I had hired. I had moved to Wisconsin expecting at least a full year, if not more, of work on the gigantic Bong site. I found some work near Madison, around Middleton, and was there when Joe and I met Tom Morgan (Ryan Inc foreman and property guy).
While here, Tom told my brother Joe and me about a good General Motors training program. This was in January 1960. We intended to stay here until the Spring of 1960. However, Bob Braeger of Braeger Chevrolet hired me as his truck department manager - which led to assistant new car manager and then used car manager. In 1964, I left Braeger, and by age 26 had five children. I was designated the statewide distributor for Dodge heavy-duty trucks and Dodge motorhomes, which led to my own Dodge dealerships.
Simultaneously with the Dodge franchise, I started to work for Ryan Inc as a project manager for expressway construction in Milwaukee. This expanded to major projects in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Florida-plus some smaller projects throughout the Midwest. In 1970, I purchased all the Ryan Truck operations, including Starline Trucking-Milwaukee, Midland Carriera-Florida, Lambert Trucking and Rigging in Minneapolis, and several smaller operations. Then over the next five years, I leased bulk dock facilities on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, and the Mississippi River to provide "Thru Put" services for coal and salt companies. These companies provided contract services from Alaska to Florida.
The largest port facility was the Port of Minneapolis, where I also operated a barge and tow boat company, a steel service company, and coal sales operations.
As construction was my first love, I also obtained a mining company at Dresser, WI, and a sand and gravel operation at North Lake, WI. During this period, I also procured the radio broadcast rights for the Ontario, CA 500-mile Indy Car racetrack, brought the architectural stone facade for the Chateau that had belonged to the Hearst Estate, also bought the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee - to keep it from being demolished, totally renovated the Gallun-Pritzlaff Mansion, and was involved in numerous real estate activities in the Milwaukee area.
I sold my companies thru sales employees and NYSE companies through IPOs and syndication. I obtained the Germania building in Milwaukee in 1980 and was responsible for a total renovation of the building from underpinning pilings to bringing all mechanicals to contemporary standards, along with having the building designated as a historic structure by the US Dept of Interior.
I then went into the food service business - manufacturing commercial kitchens- and, with my son Tom, obtained patents for card payment systems in food service operations.
While doing the above, I had five terrific children, who then provided me with three spectacular grandkids, went to two world series, three Kentucky Derbys, three Indy 500s, four Mardi Gras in New Orleans, toured Europe, Mexico and parts of South America, traveled on the Concorde and Queen Elizabeth II, attended numerous "opening nights of broadway shows," had as houseguests Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Ted Kennedy and numerous governors, senators, and other politicians; plus Victor Borge, the Mills Brothers and other entertainers of the time.
I was a member of the Building Owners and Managers Assn (BOMA), Chicago Traffic Club for 40 Years, Metropolitan Milwaukee Auto Dealers Assn, Milwaukee Traffic Club, Minneapolis Traffic Club, NAR, Milwaukee Auto Dealers Assn and Propellor Club. I received citations from the US Army Corps of Engineers for outstanding projects on emergency flood containment work on the Mississippi River, received the Preservationist of the Year Award for preserving the Germania building, Pabst and the Gallun mansions, and listed in Who's Who in America.
I lived a long and wonderful life, accomplished so many things, and accumulated numerous wonderful friends and acquaintances over all of these years; I lived my life to its fullest; the only regret I have is leaving the love of my life, Jeannie.
In lieu of flowers, John has requested memorials be made to the Pabst Mansion, with information being found at www.pabstmansion.com/make-donation-pabst-mansion/ or directly to the Pabst Mansion 2000 W Wisconsin Avenue Milwaukee WI 53223 c/o Morgan.
John will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
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