BUDA — Charles “Bruce” Conover, 90, of Austin died on Tuesday, April 8. He was born on November 3, 1923 in Flora, Ill. to the late Charles Burton Conover and Mabel Leigh Weir.He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in October 1942 and flew P-40 and P-51 fighter planes during World War II. Conover re-enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1957 as a civil engineer and was assigned to bases in Morocco, Hawaii and Vietnam. In 1972, he assumed command of the 67th Civil Engineering Squadron headquartered at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin.
In the Air Force, Conover earned widespread recognition for his achievements and was awarded the Gen. Robert H. Curtin Award in 1975 for the best Air Force Civil Engineering Squadron. He also received the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Outstanding Unit Award Medal before retiring from active duty in 1978 with the rank of colonel.
Following his military career, Conover held executive positions in the city of Austin’s budget and public works departments until his retirement in 1988. Conover sat on the Austin Airport Advisory Board and actively supported a city referendum in 1993 to convert the shuttered Bergstrom Air Force Base into Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Conover served as commander of American Legion Post No. 326 and was a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3377, the Austin Community Eagles Society, the Order of Daedalians, the Air Force Association and the Military Officer’s Association of America. In 1993, Conover founded the Austin Military Service Coalition, comprised of 77 local military organizations, to advocate for veterans interests in county, state and federal government. He served as the coalition’s president for 13 years and remained on the organization’s board of directors until his death. He was also a member of the Rotary Club of Austin.
Conover was a music enthusiast. In the years between his World War II service and his re-enlistment, he formed a barbershop quartet called “The Vikings” which won the International Barbershop Quartet Championship in 1953. The quartet performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Chicago Civic Opera House, the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and Constitution Hall in Washington. In 2003, on the 50th anniversary of its international championship, “The Vikings” reunited for a performance before a crowd of 20,000 people at the barbershop competition, held that year in Montreal.
Conover earned a bachelor’s degree in military science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Arizona State University and was a distinguished graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Conover is survived by his wife, Mardella Mirr Conover, to whom he was married for 65 years; three daughters and a son: Marla Tatum and her husband, James; Greg Conover and his wife, Joan; Laurie Jensen and her husband, Richard; and Holly Coe and her husband, Gary.
He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Jennifer Holmes and her husband, Christian; Mark Jensen and his wife, Cynthia; Jamie Tatum and his wife, Laura; Amanda Jensen; Joshua Conover; Christina Conover; Tyler Coe; and Mitchell Coe. He also leaves behind four great-grandchildren, Landen Jensen, Evelyn Holmes, Emma Holmes and Mia Holmes, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, April 14 at Harrell Funeral Home, 4435 Frontier Trail in Austin. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 15 at Santa Cruz Catholic Church, 1100 Main Street in Buda.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Springfield, Ohio-based Honor Flight Network or to any veterans support organization.Email | Print