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At home with the Conroys

Sudbury Living Magazine November 1, 2010 Lifestyle No Comments on At home with the Conroys

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. That’s sort of how Ted and Jeanne Conroy got together…with a bit of a twist.

One wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but Ted used to have a weight problem. The 6-foot-4 lawyer was one of the Diet Center’s first clients when it opened its office in Sudbury in 1984. He lost 75 pounds. And while he was getting advice about dieting, he developed a relationship with the woman who became his life partner. Jeanne, who is also well known by her previous name Warwick, owned the Diet Center franchise with Helen Ghent.

The Conroys have been together now for 22 years. She is his second wife and he is her third husband. They are living happily ever after in their rambling home on St. Charles Lake. A big part of their lives is community service. If the city had a thousand citizens like the Conroys, Sudbury would be the best city in the country—heck, the world—to live in.

The couple attend almost every fundraising event in the city. They are longtime supporters of Laurentian University, Sudbury Regional Hospital, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the Canadian Cancer Society, St. Joseph’s Villa, and St. Andrew’s Place.

Ted (Edward James) is one of Sudbury’s most respected criminal and civil litigation lawyers. He is a partner in the firm of Conroy Trebb Scott Hurtubise LLP. He is a past president of the Sudbury Law Association.

One of the founders of Huntington University, Ted is the current chancellor. In 1995, he received a doctorate of sacred letters from Huntington.

Jeanne was the first woman to serve as president of the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, and she is a former chair of the Sudbury Regional Police Board. She is a member of the grant review team for the Ontario Trillium Foundation. She has headed up numerous fundraising events over the years including the Luncheon of Hope for the Northern Cancer Research Foundation, the St. Andrew Church Fall Fair committee, and the St. Joseph’s Villa Masked Ball. She has been honoured with a Paul Harris Rotary Club Award and won the first Influential Woman of Northern Ontario Award, as well as the prestigious Bernadine Yackman Award from the Sudbury Business and Professional Women’s Club.

Ted and Jeanne have achieved many of their lives’ goals, but the one they are perhaps most proud of is the home they built together. A little house that grew. Over the years, the Conroys have transformed an old cottage into a beautiful home they christened The Treehouse.

“We bought an old cottage and lifted it up 18 feet in the air to build underneath the cottage,” says Jeanne. “Then, we joined the cottage with the garage. We were going to have an (open) walkway, and then decided to have a covered walkway. This ended up being the ‘art gallery’ as you walk in the front door.

“They used cribbing to lift the cottage…quite a feat. Chris Sheridan (who built our house) calls it the eighth wonder of the world. We extended the front of the lower addition for a sun room. We are as close to the lake as is legally possible.

“The structure as you enter, the loggia represents a grain elevator—I am from Winnipeg—and a mine shaft —Ted put himself through law school working underground at Inco—and a bell tower combination. We had to take the bell down as the pigeons kept nesting on top of it.”

The Conroys enjoy gardening and they planted many of the trees on their property that have grown into a forest.

The home is tastefully furnished with antiques collected over the years. Ted proudly points to the beautiful stained glass that Jeanne has created or collected. There is a magnificent piece that was recovered from the old church when St. Andrew’s was rebuilt.

“Ted likes to hunt,” says Jeanne. He has a collection of pocket knives. He also collects art and stories.

Ted affectionately calls his wife by her first and middle names. “Jeanne Elizabeth is a good fisherman. She can do as well as any man…or better because she is a good fighter.” (It is hard to imagine the always immaculately dressed Jeanne wearing fishing gear.)

Most recently, the Conroys have spent their winter vacations in Cuba. They love to sit on the beach, relax and read books. Previously, they travelled extensively and both loved to downhill ski.

Despite their charmed lives, the Conroys have had their share of loss. Earlier this year, Jeanne’s son, Dr. Robert Sales, died suddenly at the age of 50. In June 2006, Ted lost his oldest son, Charles, a Sudbury lawyer.

Jeanne’s other son, Doug Warwick, is a vice-president with the Toronto Dominion Bank in Toronto. Her daughter, Mary Liz, ran the Diet Center when her mother semi-retired—it closed last year. Mary Liz recently had a new baby named Veronica.

“She will be called Ronnie after her grandfather (Ron Warwick) who died last year,” says Jeanne.

Ted’s youngest son James is a paralegal with his father’s law firm. His daughter, Sarah, lives in Toronto. The Conroys have seven grandchildren.

Ted was born in Kirkland Lake, moved to Sudbury as a youth, and studied at the University in Toronto. Jeanne grew up in Chatham—her father was president of the chamber of commerce—and attended the University of Western Ontario in London. She is a registered nurse. After moving to Sudbury in 1967 with her second husband, she was a stay-at-home mom until she and Ghent opened the Diet Center.

Neither she nor Ted can imagine living anywhere else but Sudbury. Now “70something and going on 60,” the Conroys love to watch the seasons change around them. They consider the swans, ducks and geese, bears and raccoons as their friends.

For the record, both Jeanne and Ted are both good cooks—Jeanne calls Ted a gourmet cook—and delightful hosts. Their annual wild game dinner for charity is a coveted invitation. And darn it all, they both manage to stay thin!

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