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Dr. John L. Conboy, 89, longtime chief of medicine at Kenmore Mercy

Nov. 12, 1929 — Nov. 9, 2018

Dr. John L. Conboy didn't make it to his 90th birthday, but his family toasted his "life well lived" anyway, with many raising his favorite drink, Manhattans, in his honor.

His eight children remembered Dr. Conboy, who worked at Kenmore Mercy Hospital for 29 years, 16 of them as chief of medicine, as a man whose "faith in God’s love and compassion" inspired his work as a doctor in service to others.

Dr. Conboy, who was described as "passionate about family, friends and faith," had keen, lifelong interests in literature, history, antiquities, archaeology, nature, foreign cultures and religions, music and finance. He died Nov. 9 at age 89 in his residence at Asbury Pointe Retirement Community with assistance from Hospice Buffalo.

He was born in Erie, Pa., the oldest of two sons of John and Matilda (Humm) Conboy. His father was a real estate salesman who enlisted in the Navy during WWI at age 17.  His mother, a nurse, was the daughter of German immigrants whose cooking traditions are still enjoyed in the family.

Dr. Conboy and his brother Thomas attended school in Erie before the family moved to Buffalo's Old First Ward in 1944. Dr. Conboy, "JL" to his family and friends, attended South Park High School, where he was valedictorian and vice president of the Class of 1946. On the school's Sparks football team, he played offensive center and defensive lineman.

He graduated from Canisius College in 1950, majoring in biology.

While taking a summer physics class at Canisius, he met Mary Mohr, who introduced him to her younger sister Anne. The two were married on Oct. 9, 1954, in Depew, the same year he graduated from the University at Buffalo medical school, where he studied internal medicine.

Dr. Conboy enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Sept. 19, 1955, serving as a medic in the Brooklyn Navy Yard during the Korean War era. In 1956, his brother Thomas, who was a jet pilot in the Navy, died during a training flight crash.

Dr. Conboy was discharged on Sept. 18, 1957, with the rank of lieutenant.

Over the next 11 years, the Conboys had four boys and four girls. "My Dad worked demanding hours and life at home rested mainly on my mother's shoulders. It was her love and support that enabled my father to be the successful man that he was," said their son, J. Mark Conboy.

Dr. Conboy started working at Kenmore Mercy Hospital in 1960. He was named chief of medicine there in 1973. In 1985, he received the Sister Mechtilde Memorial Award, one of the hospital’s highest honors.

At the same time, he operated a private medical practice on Sheridan Drive in Tonawanda for more than 40 years. His son J. Mark called Dr. Conboy "a man of tremendous generosity," who often treated those in need for free. His children recalled grateful patients providing a Christmas bounty of "fantastic homemade Greek and Italian pastries and cookies, and special fruit baskets."

Dr. Conboy missed just one day of work in more than 40 years, when he accidentally jabbed himself with a needle full of penicillin, to which he had an allergic reaction. Dr. Conboy's son Thomas, a psychiatrist, recalled that his father often told medical students, "Listen close to the patients, they have the answer."

In his rare private time, Dr. Conboy dipped into his library, reading widely on many topics. Due to his broad interests and curiosity, Dr. Conboy spoke easily to people and could find a common bond with anyone he met, his family said.

After closing his private practice and retiring from Kenmore Mercy Hospital on Dec. 31, 1989, Dr. Conboy began working 40-hour weeks in his "semi-retirement" at the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He retired in 2000.

He enjoyed traveling, visiting Russia, France and Switzerland and a family fishing trip to Alaska, among many journeys.

A lover of nature, Dr. Conboy enjoyed hiking and working on land he owned in Franklinville. Although he suffered from both heart failure and cancer in the final two years of his life, his children said their father "amazed us with his resilience."

He was a member of the Dickens Fellowship (Buffalo Branch No. 164).

His wife, Anne, died in 2012 after 58 years of marriage.

Dr. Conboy is survived by his children, Mary, J. Mark, Christopher, Eva Talatinian-Conboy, Joseph, Teresa, Thomas and Sheila; 14 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held Nov. 14 in St. John the Baptist Church in the Town of Tonawanda..

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