John Patrick Conway, 82, WWII tail gunner and machinist at Bell
By Albert Amateau
John Patrick Conway, known as Jack, a decorated World War II Army Air Corps veteran and a Bell System employee who lived in the Village for more than 50 years, died Sept. 24 during a weekend stay in Atlantic City with his wife and several West Village friends.
He was 82 and died suddenly of a massive heart attack, said his daughter, Pamela Conway Hayes.
A devoted sportsman, Jack Conway served for many years as director of officials in the citywide Skyline League, which organized and officiated at softball in Central Park and basketball in school gyms all over the city.
“When I was a teenager I used to go to Central Park to watch him ump softball games,” his daughter said. “Wherever we went in the city, guys would recognize Mr. Conway,” she added.
Born in Manhattan to John Patrick Conway and Bridget Toohey Conway, both born in Ireland, he was raised on the Upper East Side where he went to public school. He joined the Air Corps June 15, 1943, trained as an aerial gunner in Texas and became a staff sergeant and tail gunner in a bomber crew based in England.
From April 11 to August 16, 1944, he flew 25 missions over Germany.
“He didn’t talk much about it but he said they only time they felt safe was when they saw the white cliffs of Dover on the way home,” said his daughter.
Conway was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the Victory Medal and the Good Conduct and American Campaign ribbons.
“He was a hero a member of a fabled generation,” said his daughter.
He married Filomena DiLeo, a Village girl, in 1949, and raised a family with her on Charlton St.
He worked as a machinist for the Bell System for more than 50 years, most of the time at 395 Hudson St., retiring from AT & T a few years after the 1984 court-ordered dissolution of the conglomerate.
In addition to his wife, their daughter and her husband, William Hayes, two granddaughters, Katherine Conway Hayes, 18, and Victoria Conway Hayes, 14, also survive.
Perazzo Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements. The funeral Mass was Sept. 28 at St. Anthony’s Church on Sullivan St. and burial was in Linden Hill Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens.