Kevin J. Connor, 59, a leader in hospitals, Camden Diocese

Kevin J. Connor, 59, of Haddon Township, a former chief financial officer of Frankford Hospital who went on to work for the Diocese of Camden and focused on helping youths and the poor, died of kidney cancer Thursday, May 27, at his home.

After 22 years of working in the corporate world, mostly in area hospitals, Mr. Connor wanted to give back to the church and his community. For the last 10 years, he had been a behind-the-scenes leader in the diocese, encouraging others to follow their calling.

20100530_inq_o-jcon30-a
Kevin J. Connor

"One of his biggest joys was getting the kids to [participate] in service projects and help out the poor," said his wife, Linda Wray.

Once Mr. Connor left Frankford Hospital in 2000, he was hired as director of development for Catholic Charities in Camden.

For eight years, he wrote a lot of grant applications for diocese programs, including refuge resettlement, homeless shelters, and HIV centers. But his biggest work there was leading Project One after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, his wife said.

Project One coordinated fund-raising in South Jersey parishes. Then, instead of just sending the money to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Mr. Connor coordinated groups of volunteers to go down to the Ninth Ward and help rebuild.

He traveled to Louisiana three or four times as part of a "gutting crew," which cleaned up destroyed properties to make room for new homes.

In 2008, he was appointed director of the Camden Diocese's Lay Ministry Formation Program.

Mr. Connor's belief that lay ministers should be not just volunteers, but also experts in their ministry, led to an educational program that offers theology formation classes.

The first classes started in January 2009 with a few dozen people. Now, 300 are enrolled, said Sister Roseann Quinn, the bishop's delegate for life-faith formation.

"He was very effective in his work. . . . It grew out of his passion," Quinn said.

Mr. Connor was also the director of youth ministry for Holy Saviour Parish in Westmont for about 20 years and enjoyed working in conjunction with the Romero Center in Camden, said the Rev. Edward Friel of Holy Saviour and St. John Parishes.

Born and raised in Trenton, Mr. Connor graduated from Cathedral High School in 1968.

After receiving a bachelor's degree in accounting from La Salle College in 1972, he worked for the Peat Marwick accounting firm and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania as an accountant before Abington Hospital hired him in the early 1980s.

After almost 10 years of being controller at Abington, he made the jump to CFO at Frankford, now Aria Health.

"You can attribute the financial success of this hospital to his skills," said Roy A. Powell, Aria Health president and chief executive officer.

Mr. Connor played a big role in the acquisition of Aria Health's Bucks County Campus in 1999, Powell said.

While Mr. Connor worked at Frankford, he also taught martial arts in the hospital's health center. He was a second-degree black belt in aikido, his wife said.

He was also an avid runner and fisherman.

As an adjunct professor, Mr. Connor taught classes in hospital administration at Gwynedd-Mercy College and at St. Joseph's University, where he met his wife. The couple married in 1993.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Connor is survived by a brother, John, and a sister, Terry Higgins.

Friends may call from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 31, at St. John's Church, 809 Park Ave., Collingswood, where a Funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 1. Burial will be in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden.

Memorial donations may be made to the Kevin Connor Youth Ministry Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of South Jersey, Box 446, Haddonfield, N.J. 08033.


Contact staff writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or cvargas@phillynews.com.