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Earl Conover, 87, WWII Death March survivor, dies

Links to related stories and a photo of the Wyatt and Ila Conover family follow this obituary.
The funeral service for Earl Conover, 87, Wall Street, Columbia, KY, will be at 10:00 a.m., Monday, June 20, 2005 at Grissom Funeral Home, 200 Campbellsville Street, Columbia, KY, with Bro. Raymond Martin officiating.

He was born September 17, 1917, the son of the late Wyatt and Ila Epperson Conover of Columbia, KY.

He volunteered for military service with the U.S. Army in April of 1941. He trained at Ft. Knox, KY, and was assigned to service in the Phillippines. He was surrendered in April of 1942 to the Japanese. He was a survivor of the Bataan Death March while a prisoner of war in World War II.

He was liberated in August, 1945, from a Japanese Prison Camp in Japan, and returned home to a hero's welcome in Columbia. He was discharged from the Army in January, 1946.

He was a a graduate of Columbia High School, class of 1935.

He owned a jewelry store on the Square before World War II.

He was a member of Columbia Baptist Church and of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6097.

He served in the State Fire Marshal's office from 1959 through 1980. After retirement from State Government he served for a time as Adair County Electrical Inspector.

He was long-time firefighter with the Columbia-Adair County Volunteer Fire Department, and served for a time as Deputy Chief of the VFD.

He held the honorary titles of Kentucky Colonel, Duke of Paducah, and Green River Admiral.

Mr. Conover was the Official Keeper of the Adair County Courthouse Clock in the years just before its movements were powered by electricity, and climbed the tower each Sunday to wind the mechanical power.

He helped build the Columbian Theatre.

The Janice Holt Giles Memorial Library has a special display of Earl Conover war memorabilia, including some yet-to-be displayed autobiographical notes.

His wife of 54 years, Clara Matthews Conover, Columbia, KY, survives. They were married October 9, 1950. Their son, Dennis was born in 1952. A daughter, Betty, was born in 1959.

He is further survived by the following:
  • One son and daughter-in-law: Dennis and Sallie Collins Conover of Huntsville, AL

  • One daughter and son-in-law: Betty and Clifford Jasper, Columbia, KY

  • Five grandchildren: Ben and Heather Jasper, Columbia; Sarah and her husband Shane Brown, Cleveland, TN; Stephanie Conover, New York City; and Steve Conover, Huntsville, AL.
He was preceded in death by a sister, Frances Conover Pickard.

Burial will be in Columbia Cemetery with military honors presented by VFW Post 6097.

Visitation will be after 2:00 p.m., Sunday June 19, at Grissom Funeral Home, Columbia, KY. Grissom Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

This obituary was made possible through the support of Grissom Funeral Home, established in 1926, located one block off the square at 200 Campbellsville Street in Columbia. To reach David and Cathy Martin, phone 270-384-2149, or

Large enough to serve comfortably; Small enough to serve personally.

This story was posted on 2005-06-18 13:03:19
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Grissom-Martin Funeral Home
Established in 1926
Located one block off the Square at 200 Campbellsville Street in Columbia, KY. (MAP) To reach David and Cathy Martin, phone (270)-384-2149, or E-mail:
Large enough to serve comfortably; Small enough to serve personally.

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Wyatt Conover family photo with Earl Conover as little boy

2005-06-19 - Columbia, KY - Photo Conover family collection. This photo of Wyatt and Ila Conover with children Earl and sister Frances is from the Conover family photo collection. Wyatt Conover died March 8, 1950. Ila Conover died September 6, 1977. Frances also preceded Earl Conover in death.
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