The Western Mass chapter of Represent.Us lost one of its most active members this summer. Roger Conant of Pelham, Mass., passed away on June 24 as a result of head trauma that occurred after an accident while walking his dog.
Roger was one of the chapter’s most active volunteers, always eager to brainstorm ideas, make concrete plans, and then volunteer to carry them out. His kindness, good will, sense of humor, and commitment will be greatly missed by everyone.
Roger was involved with Represent.Us for approximately two years but had been a tireless advocate for peace and social justice for many years. He brought the Represent.Us resolution calling on legislators to address the issue of corruption in government to the Pelham town meeting, where the town council passed it unanimously. He arranged to host a screening of “Dark Money” at the Pelham Library and was planning to host “Unbreaking America” there this fall. He had also recently volunteered to help the chapter focus its efforts on Rank Choice Voting and other voting alternatives.
According to Reed Schimmelfing, a long serving chapter leader, “Roger was rarely the first to join a conversation or discussion but after others weighed in with their thoughts and ideas, he always had something valuable to add. Sometimes with support for a direction already on the table, other times opening up a new direction or perspective nobody else had yet identified. He never wanted the limelight, preferring to stay in the background doing the work to accomplish a task while others offered the public face for the effort.”
Mannie White, a new member of the chapter, was struck by Roger’s enthusiasm for coming up with solutions to problems and his willingness to help execute them. “I only attended half a dozen meetings with Roger, but he was such a pleasure to work with. I was so impressed with his enthusiasm for experimenting with technology as a tool to get things done, and I especially appreciated his friendliness to me as a new member. He was a really nice guy.”
Before retiring to Pelham, Mass., in 1998, Roger had a long career as an award-winning teacher at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana. His travels in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa as a college student, as well as time spent living with black sharecroppers fighting for voting rights in Tennessee, helped to shape his compassionate world view.
Roger was also an active member of the Mt. Toby Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) where he was involved in many projects. He was also a lover of music, organizing and leading a monthly folk sing for eighteen years, and singing bass in the Leverett Community Choir.
A memorial meeting in the manner of Friends will be held on Saturday, September 7, at 2pm at Mount Toby Monthly Meeting, 194 Long Plain Road, Leverett, MA.
Contributions in Roger’s honor may be made to Amherst Survival Center, 138 Sunderland Road, North Amherst, MA 01059 or firstname.lastname@example.org.