Carl Connor, a lifelong educator, retired more than 30 years ago, but many of his students still wrote letters and visited him at The Terrace Retirement Community.
"He was really a loved man who made an impression with everyone with whom he came in contact with," said friend Eliot Battle. "He was just a person who gave of himself."
Mr. Connor died on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. He was 100.
He was born Jan. 20, 1911, to Minor and Elizabeth Connor. He was the youngest of four children.
After graduating from Douglass High School in 1929, Mr. Connor applied to MU, where both his parents worked. But he and his three siblings were denied enrollment because they were African-American.
Mr. Connor didn't let challenges stifle his dream of becoming a teacher. He attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1934. It was there that he met his wife, Octavia, to whom he was married almost 70 years.
In 1949, he received a master's degree from Indiana State Teachers College, before finishing his post-graduate studies at MU.
Advancing education for black students was his life's work. Mr. Connor's efforts prompted his induction into the Lincoln University Alumni Hall of Fame on July 23.
As principal of Hayti Negro High School in southern Missouri, Mr. Connor advocated a four-year high school for black students. Under his leadership, the school expanded to include the 11th and 12th grades, and was renamed Hayti Central High School.
When the state passed a law allowing only three textbooks for each student in first through eighth grades, Mr. Connor worked to get newer books for his students.
Later, he became principal of Sumner School, an African-American public school in Boonville. It was here that he met Battle, whose wife taught under Mr. Connor.
The two have been friends for more than 40 years. Battle recalls seeing Mr. Connor sitting by himself at an NAACP program at Second Baptist Church about three years ago. Battle sat down next to him.
"I said, 'Carl, I'd like to drive you home,' and he said, 'Well, what'll I do with my car?" Battle said with a faint laugh. "I had no idea he was still driving ... He just didn't give up until he had to — that was the kind of person he was."
Mr. Connor is survived by three cousins, Charles Allen of Columbia, Phillip Morris and Jacqueline Shackleford, both of Kansas City; and one great-nephew, Ron Fox of Hollywood, Fla.
His wife; two brothers, William and Orey; and one sister, Estelle, died earlier.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at H.T. May & Son Funeral Home, 2207 Holly Ave., Columbia, MO, 65202, and from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at Paseo Baptist Church,2501 Paseo Blvd., Kansas City, MO, 64108.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, at Paseo Baptist Church, with burial in Memorial Park Cemetery, 1217 Business Loop 70 W, Columbia, MO, 65202.
Condolences can be posted at htmayfuneralhome.com.