James E. Conner, 79

Sales manager, magician

December 14, 2006

James E. Conner, a retired sales manager, book collector and amateur prestidigitator, died of heart failure Dec. 3 at Baltimore Washington Medical Center. The Odenton resident was 79.

Mr. Conner was born in Baltimore and raised in Catonsville. After graduating from Catonsville High School in 1944, he served in the Coast Guard for two years as a storekeeper and trumpet player.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Loyola College in 1949, and went to work for Garamond-Pridemark Press Inc., a division of Cadmus Communications Inc. He was a vice president and sales manager when he retired in 1989.

Mr. Conner enjoyed collecting books and was a longtime member of Baltimore Bibliophiles.

"He loved fine printing and magic. Jimmy enjoyed entertaining various groups," said his wife of 56 years, the former Lucille Springer Bailey.

Mr. Conner, who learned magic as a teenager, used the name James the Phenomenal when performing. He averaged 40 children's parties a year, his wife said.

He was a member of the Magicians' Alliance of Eastern States and was a founder of the Maryland Assembly of the Society of Young Magicians.

Mr. Conner was a former president of the Rotary Club of Ellicott City, the Young Democrats and the Catonsville Historical Society, and a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

He was an active communicant and former vestryman at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, where a memorial service was held Saturday.

Also surviving are a daughter, Dianne Conner Poynor of Fincastle, Va.; and two grandchildren.

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