Michael Confer

[ Age 59 ] A vice president at Whiting-Turner, he worked on construction of the second span of the Bay Bridge.

December 17, 2006|By Julie Scharper | Julie Scharper,Sun Reporter

Michael V. Confer, a senior vice president with the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. who worked on the construction of the second span of the Bay Bridge, died of brain cancer Monday at his home in Jacksonville. He was 59.

Mr. Confer, a native of Williamsport, Pa., became interested in engineering as a child, said his mother, Janet Confer, of Muncy, Pa. He and a cousin would race around in a soapbox car that they had built and equipped with a motor from a lawnmower, she said.

He was the starting quarterback at Hughesville High School for four years before graduating in 1965. During the summers, he worked on his grandfather's farm and at a nearby gas station, his mother said.

He attended Lehigh University on a football scholarship and graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1969, his mother said. He told his mother that his grandfather had introduced him to many engineering concepts on the farm. "He used to laugh and say, `A lot of these things that I am learning in civil engineering are things that Pappy has always done on the farm,'" she said.

Soon after graduation, he married the former Leslie Brown, then moved to Baltimore to take a job with Whiting-Turner. One of his first projects was the construction of the second span of the Bay Bridge, his mother said.

He moved through the ranks at Whiting-Turner and was promoted to vice president in 1983. He oversaw numerous projects, including the renovation and expansion of Tysons Corner shopping center in Virginia, according to a Whiting-Turner news release.

In 1998, he was promoted to senior vice president and was charged with supervising the seven Southeast offices. He and his wife made their home in Jacksonville and raised three children before her death from cancer in 2000.

Two years later, he met the former Cheryl Wendal at a friend's wedding. They were married in 2004.

In his free time, Mr. Confer enjoyed working on his antique cars, including his 1959 MG and 1966 Jaguar XKE. He would drive through the country roads of northern Baltimore County, Cheryl Confer said.

His brain cancer was diagnosed just months after their wedding, Mrs. Confer said. "He had a positive attitude throughout his whole illness," she said. "He would always say, `You just do today.'"

Although he had to rely on friends and relatives to drive him, he continued to work until Thanksgiving, she said. "He was just literally struggling to get to work, because by then he had a very hard time walking," she said.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today at Fallston United Methodist Church, 1509 Fallston Road.

In addition to his wife and mother, survivors include his father, Ray Confer, also of Muncy; three children, Todd Confer of Cockeysville, Adam Confer of Baltimore and Jennifer Confer of Baltimore; a brother, Leslie Confer, of Philadelphia; a sister, Eva Breneisin, of Muncy; and a granddaughter and grandson. A stepdaughter, Erica Wendal, lives in New York, and another, Courtney Wendal, lives in Columbia.


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