John Stewart Conyers, 83, died at home in Austin, Texas on March 28, 2022. His loving wife and daughter were by his side.
John was born in his mother’s hometown of La Crosse, Wisconsin on September 19, 1938. His parents, William and Helen Stewart Conyers, raised John and his younger sister Dinah on a farm in Crockett County, Tennessee, in a home full of books, music, lively conversation, and farm-fresh vegetables.
John loved all those things, but his love of music and books especially shaped his life. He excelled at the clarinet, which he played in the US Army Band. He received undergraduate and master’s degrees from Union University and University of North Texas College of Music, studied musicology at the University of California at Berkeley, and ultimately pursued a career in library management in San Antonio. He worked at UTSA for decades and was a friend and mentor to many in the library field.
John tended to be reserved, not raucous, which meant people tended to listen when he spoke. This was dangerous, since he dispensed puns almost as often as wise counsel. John loved humor – the more absurd the better (his daughter Anna recalls being baffled by Monty Python as a very young child). He also loved the St. Louis Cardinals, all the other sports that come second to baseball, chocolate (dark), coffee (black), and travel. John was a joyful traveler, and shared many adventures with Ann Riner, his wife and constant companion of 40 years — even climbing two tiers of China’s Great Wall at the age of 81.
More than anything, John was kind, generous, and patient. He gave his time, attention, and labor to many, and never asked for anything from others. He delighted in children, most recently his grandchildren, who remember how when they were small, he never tired of playing the games they demanded. Even when the game was “tie Grandad’s shoes together” (again), John would cheerfully play along, pretending not to notice as the shoes on his feet were tied together, and hamming it up with feigned distress when his predicament was later “discovered.”
John and Ann moved from San Antonio to Austin in 2018 as his struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease intensified, and found a lovely community where they made friends, walked, gardened, and treasured the good days and moments.
John is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Ann (“Ann”) Riner; daughter Anna Conyers Kuhn and husband Kurt Kuhn of Austin; grandchildren Eli Kuhn and Lucy Kuhn; sister Dinah Ruch of Los Angeles; niece Jennifer Walner and husband Doug of New Orleans; nephew Taylor Williams of Los Angeles; cousin Judy Cooper of New Orleans; cousin Linda McKinley and husband Jim of Memphis; as well as beloved great-nieces and great-nephews, extended family members, and friends.
A memorial celebrating John’s life is planned for June 15, 2022, at Buckner Villas in Austin, at 2:00 pm. In keeping with his generous nature, John donated his body to UT Health Science Center Medical School.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Alzheimer’s Association Capital of Texas Chapter or Buckner Retirement Services, designated for the Buckner Wellness Center in Austin.