Rev. Harold "H.T." Tilton Conner Sr. age 97 of Martin, died on October 15, 2017 at Diversicare Healthcare Facility in Martin. Funeral services for Rev. Conner were held on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at Fuller Street Baptist Church in Dresden at 1:00 PM with burial that followed in Eastside Cemetery in Martin.
Harold Tilton Conner, Sr. was born in Fulton, Kentucky, December 30, 1919, to the late Wayfort and Christine Conner. He passed away peacefully on Sunday evening, October 15, 2017, in Martin, Tennessee.
Reverend Conner was preceded in death by his wife Florence Bell Conner; his parents; his Grandfather, Marshall McCrory, and his Aunt Ola whom he dearly loved; and a sister Jimmie Lou Conner. He is survived by his three children, Harold (Joyce), Knoxville; Marshall (Vickie), Knoxville; and Cathie (Nate) Holmes, Martin and seven grandchildren—Tilton (Sabrina) Conner of Olney, Maryland; Brian Conner, Columbia, South Carolina; Crystal Conner Jackson, Memphis; Tonya (Marcus) Bly, Knoxville; Tracy (James) Robinson, Knoxville; Nicholas (Zoletta) Holmes, Decatur, Alabama; Tara Holmes, Martin, and 14 great grandchildren, four great-great grandchildren, and cousins. Reverend Conner also leaves to mourn his faithful congregation at Fuller Street Baptist Church in Dresden, Tennessee, especially Edgar (Jessie) Harrell of Martin, who he thought of like a son.
Reverend Conner was educated at Tennessee State University and Murray State University in Kentucky. He was a science teacher and Principal at Weakley County Training School. After integration in 1966, he was the first African-American principal at Martin Junior High School. He was a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents and an ordained Baptist minister. He was the first black administrator to be employed by UT Martin. He first served the University as Assistant Dean of Students and then Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. During his tenure, Reverend Conner was instrumental in the formation of many campus organizations and programs that still play significant roles on the UTM campus, including the Black Student Organization (BSA), Freshman Studies, the Highest Praise Gospel Choir, and the Peer Enabler Program (PEP).
Reverend Conner retired from the University in 1981. He was the first recipient of the Black Student Association's annual Legacy Award for his achievements at UTM. He was the pastor of the Fuller Street Baptist Church in Dresden, Tennessee for almost 50 years. He was often a guest speaker at local churches, the University, and in the community. He served in the United States Army and was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Reverend Conner was still ministering to people around him and encouraging individuals about the importance of education all the way through his last days. He loved God, his family, his church, and his community. He was a man who touched many lives and changed them for the better. Because of his love for church and education, the family requests that, in lieu of flowers, please contribute to the Harold Conner Scholarship at the University of Tennessee-Martin or to Fuller Street Baptist Church in Dresden, Tennessee.