221 Drew Street in Paw Paw has been home to Eleanor’s Pantry for over 12 years. Residing right next door were the couple that made that possible. Dave Conner, who passed away on May 16 of this year, and his wife Pat owned the building and knew of the vital community need to move multiple smaller church pantries to a larger facility where inventory could be maintained, needed refrigeration installed, and required criteria be met to partner with supporting food banks like Feeding America. Not only did the Conners offer up the building but through their generosity offered it up to the pantry rent free.
“Eleanor’s Pantry could not exist without the generosity and kindness of the Conners. Thanks to them, those in need can be better cared for. Our community owes Dave and Pat a debt of gratitude,” states Sue Miller, the pantry’s current Executive Director.
Most days prior to Dave’s passing, it was common to find Dave and Pat out and about in the yard and Pat in her gardens or enjoying each other’s company as they spent time on their back deck. When Dave’s health declined and it was harder for him to get out in the yard, you could find him sitting in the garage waving at volunteers and guests on their trips to the pantry. Life is different now since Dave’s passing but love and support from family and friends bring Pat joy and the opportunity to share many memories of their life’s journey together.
“Dave just basically loved people. He didn’t know a stranger and was always the first to say hello and engage in small talk that quickly manifested into countless friendships,” shared Pat.
Moving here as a child, Dave loved Paw Paw and enjoyed educating visitors and those newer to Paw Paw on the history of our small town. Family was very important to Dave. He raised his four children here, and enjoyed spending time with them, as well as his three stepchildren, and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Recently the Pantry paid tribute to Dave for his generosity and support over the years by presenting Pat with a sign that was then installed above the garage door at the pantry where Dave previously stored one of his favorite cars.
“It’s individuals like Dave that build community; and his strong sense of community, part of his legacy, has impacted and will continue to impact so many people that live within ours,” says Rhonda Stull, the pantry’s Community Outreach representative.