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Craig C. Conant
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Johnson County

Taking the Lead

BY ROBERT FREEDMAN

Angel Conant wrote poetry, aspired to be a musician, and stood by your side when you needed help.

But one summer night in 1999, after helping a friend relocate, Angel never made it back home—she was struck by a drunk driver on Interstate 70 in Illinois, far outside her hometown of Warrensburg, Mo.

To honor their daughter’s generous spirit, Craig and Ramona Conant used their insurance settlement to create a scholarship fund at Central Missouri State University, where Angel was to be a freshman that fall.

Now the fund helps aspiring musicians attend the university. In return, the students are asked to give something back to the community—“just as Angel always did,” says Craig Conant, who knows something about giving back to his community.

With his wife as his key partner, Conant has become the go-to person when the community needs volunteers or money. He was a pivotal force in establishing a Big Brothers/Big Sisters chapter and has taken the lead on a number of projects in the city, including bringing the area’s only state-of-the-art OAE Echo Port infant hearing monitor to the local hospital.

What drives Conant, a 10-year veteran salesperson with Elsberry Realty in Warrensburg, is a sense of stewardship for his community. The town of some 17,000 people, in the agricultural heartland of Missouri, bears marks of Conant’s good works everywhere you go—from the obstetrics center at Western Missouri Medical Center, where the hearing monitor is located, to the “Big House” on North College Drive.

The “Big House,” which Conant helped save from the wrecking ball in 1998, became the permanent home for one of his pet projects: the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters youth mentoring program.

Conant had struck a deal with the city: He and other volunteers would bring the 800-square-foot building up to code in exchange for a year of rent-free use for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Four years later, the program has become one of the highest-profile charities in the area, and it continues to use the renovated building rent-free.

“Craig’s leadership was unfaltering,” says Mark Curtis, a board member of the group.

Conant became a founder of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters chapter by chance. A few volunteers from the Whiteman Air Force Base, just outside of Warrensburg, introduced the idea to the community, and Conant, then president of the local Lions Club, asked what he could do to help. A dozen fund-raisers later, many of them conceived and spearheaded by Conant, the organization became a reality.

Conant went on to serve as president of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, just as he had headed or helped oversee a host of other initiatives. He’s credited with raising tens of thousands of dollars for local causes—all of it with the help of his wife, Ramona, also a REALTOR, and with the support of his colleagues at Elsberry Realty and the Midwest Missouri Board of REALTORS.

Now the cause closest to his heart is on the verge of fruition: a park that will house a memorial for all the children in the area whose lives, like that of his daughter, have been cut short. It’s been a formidable two-year process, but now a trust fund and a governing board are in place, a sculptor has been selected to create a memorial wall, and two potential sites have been identified. All that’s left is a $150,000 fund-raising goal. And there’s little doubt in Warrensburg that, with Conant leading the way, the Children’s Memorial Park will be a reality.

>> How to contact Craig C. Conant <<


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01/26/2022 08:35 AM07/01/2001