Oswego: Its People, Places and Events

Hon. John O’Connor Conway

A. Background

John O’C. Conway is one of Oswego’s “favorite sons”. He was born on July 26, 1911 in Troy, New York. His parents were Daniel H. Conway and Ellen O’Connor Conway. She was the youngest of 9 children in a family from Oswego and was homesick. While John was an infant, the Conway’s moved back to Oswego.

John’s father was a businessman. His enterprises included a knitting factory that was located on Bridge Street. He also served as Mayor of Oswego in the 1930’s, as a Republican. Conway Terrace, a housing development on the City’s east side, was named after him.

Daniel Conway, born in 1913, was John’s brother. Unfortunately, their mother died in 1918 from the influenza epidemic. John and Dan grew up in Oswego. They loved the outdoors and horses, jumpers in particular. John was taught to shoot by none other than the famous marksman, Annie Oakley.

After graduating from Oswego High School, John entered Harvard University. Among his close friends was Paul Curley, whose father, James Michael Curley was the Mayor of Boston.

John had a talent for politics which was nurtured during his time in Boston. After 2 1/2 years, John transferred to Georgetown University from which he graduated. John then got his law degree from Georgetown in 1941. When WWII broke out, John joined the Army and served as a Tank Commander in Europe.

After the war, John returned to Oswego to practice law. Dan worked with horses as a Thoroughbred trainer at Finger Lakes in Canandaigua. However, they also had certain businesses together. They include the Conway Bottling Company and a small dog food factory.

John loved people and politics. He was Democrat County Chairman for more than 20 years. He served as the Mayor of Oswego from 1968 to 1973. He had a statewide reputation.

In addition to his public service, he had an active law practice. In 1976, Governor Carey appointed him Judge of the New York Supreme Court for Oswego County, a position to which he was then elected when he was later cross endorsed for this position by the Republican Party.

John did much for the City of Oswego. He also had a wonderful family. His wife is the former Mary Fitzgibbons. They had a daughter named Ellen who is a law school graduate.

John was a leader who made a difference in his public service, as well as his service as a lawyer to clients. He was a great inspiration and mentor to many. One was John T. Sullivan, Jr., Esq. who upon graduation became John’s law partner before John became Supreme Court Judge.

On February 2, 1994, John passed away. John Sullivan gave the eulogy entitled “A Celebration of Life” at St. Paul’s Church which was the decedent’s parish. The eulogy is set forth below.

John Sullivan, following in John Conway’s shoes, became Mayor of Oswego. During his administration, Mayor Sullivan initiated a tribute to John Conway for all of his service by naming the former Post Office “The John O’C. Conway Municipal Center”. This building now houses the Police Station and City Court, along with other City offices.

It is of interest that the Post Office building was built in 1853 and is located just to the south of City Hall across Oneida Street. In addition to serving as a Post Office, this building also was the Custom House and used as a Federal Court. The building was constructed by the US Treasury Department and has the same design as the former Post Office in Chicago, Illinois.


Click here to read the tribute to John O’C. Conway
To view the Program for the Services of John O’Connor Conway click here

This entry was posted in Feature, John O'Connor Conway, New York, Oswego. Bookmark the permalink.