Michael Patrick Conner, age 49, died October 18, 2019 after a long, inspirational battle against cancer. He faced his last difficult journey with an amazing amount of grace and positivity, keeping his legendary humor up to the very end. Mike is survived by his son, Avery Conner, his stepdaughter, Maddie Rain, his wife, Carla Jo Larmore, his mother, Marie Conner, and his father, Jim Conner. Mike will be deeply missed by many friends and family.
Mike grew up in Springfield, Illinois where he enjoyed fishing, cycling, playing in a high school punk rock band and writing for the underground school newspaper. Shortly after graduation, he escaped to the Pacific Northwest to begin a new life exploring the mountains and sailing the sea. Mike attended The Evergreen State College where he furthered his commitment to defend and explore the natural world.
Mike sailed to the San Juan Islands, in his first boat, The Crow, landing on Lopez in 1991. Mike quickly grew roots on the island, developing deep connections with the community and land. A builder at heart, he constructed his first dwelling, The Mud Hut, on the Southend, demonstrating his preference for simple, sturdy passive solar design and adherence to organic building principles. His fine rock work lives on in the landscapes of Lopez and the surrounding islands. For many years, Mike shared his love of sailing and passion for the mountains, teaching and leading trips through the Kids Summer Workshop Program. Recently, Mike volunteered hours of his time to the Southern Resident Protection Initiative effort standing up for the rights of Orca whales to have the space they need to hunt and live.
In 1998, Mike braved the waters of The Salish Sea in an assortment of small crafts while wooing his wife to be, Carla Jo. Settling on Waldron with Carla, Maddie and Avery, he cleared the land, milled the lumber and built their first home. For years Mike ran a small passenger and freight service for Waldron Island. After years of interisland living, the family returned to Lopez when Avery started high school. Here, Mike built yet another beautiful, sturdy, practical home that he enjoyed until the moment he died.
Mike was an amazing waterman, outdoorsman, carpenter, writer and naturalist. He shared his skills and love of the outdoors with his kids, family and friends; inspiring hundreds of people to explore wild places and play right in their backyard. He blessed us with so many adventures, grand and small, which we will remember him by. Always ready for a ramble, Mike showed us the path not yet taken. Celebration of Life to be announced.