Tomcat for Life: Stone County mourns loss of athletic director Kevin Conard
WIGGINS, Miss. (WLOX) - Stone County is mourning the loss of a mentor, friend and leader. Stone High Athletic Director Kevin Conard died suddenly Wednesday afternoon while cutting his grass.
With his passing, love and support have been flooding his family and others in the community who knew him.
Kevin Conard was a proud employee of Stone County School District for decades, first as a teacher and a baseball coach, then as an assistant principal at the high school. After a brief stint as the district’s director of nutrition, he accepted his dream job as the athletic director.
“This community is hurt. We lost somebody that we love, see as a friend, as a coach to many and definitely a mentor to myself,” said Tomcat Boy’s Basketball Head Coach Jonathan Williams. “He talked to me about life a lot of times. It was always bigger than basketball. How can you help this community? How can you help these young men be better than they were, and to help them outside just the game of basketball.”
Williams was the last individual that Conard hired, but he was far from the first life that he helped change.
“There is no doubt as a district we loved Kevin Conard desperately,” Superintendent Inita Owen. “To say he will be missed is an understatement. Everybody loved him. I mean he was exuberant. He was so passionate about everything. He brought joy to the room and he had a sense of humor that would light up any room.”
It wasn’t just in the school district where Conard made an impact. He left an impression on everyone who knew him in the community. On Sunday mornings, he could be found at First Baptist Church teaching Sunday school. He was known in the community as a man of great faith. In fact, the two words that came up more than any other when asked about him were ‘faith’ and ‘family.’
“Coach Conard was an awesome man. He went above and beyond the call of duty for the kids of Stone County,” said the high school’s head football coach John Feaster. “If you want to remember him, look no further than his son Gehrig Conard. That bulldog and gritty mentality comes from him.”
That mentality wasn’t just instilled in his own kids though. It was an approach and set of values that he has taught thousands.
“Kevin was an enlarger. He had the ability to make players play and people feel larger than they were,” said former athletic director Greg Amacker. “Stone County lost a great coach who left his impact on a lot of people. He will be missed dearly by our family.”
Stone High Principal Adam Stone saw Coach Conard’s values and work ethic from a young age. Conard actually coached Stone’s pee wee basketball team. Since then, Stone has served alongside Conard as an assistant principal and considers himself lucky that he was able to call Conard a friend, mentor and colleague.
“You know around here we say T4L. That means Tomcat for life, and Kevin Conard was the epitome of what Tomcat for life means,” said Principal Stone.
Conard is survived by a loving wife and three children. His family and closest friends will attend his funeral on Sunday to once again pay their respects to a man who has given so much to South Mississippi.
Because of his sudden passing, a memorial account has been set up at the Bank of Wiggins to help his family. Donations can be made there under the Conard family name.
An additional memorial account has also been setup to help provide scholarships to Stone County athletes. Donations can be made to the Kevin Conard Athletic Memorial Scholarship Fund at Keesler Federal Credit Union.
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