John J. Conley – Sergeant, United States Army

From a contemporary press report:  March 30, 2001

John J. Conley, a World War II veteran who overcame grievous wounds to become a distinguished Michigan administrative law judge, died of bone marrow cancer Tuesday at Lutheran Heritage Village nursing home in Livonia, Michigan.

He was 82 and lived in Redford Township.

Mr. Conley enlisted in the Army in World War II and served with a battery of the 19th Field Artillery in the 5th Infantry Division in Europe. During the Battle of the Bulge in early 1945, a rocket shell smashed into his body, injuring him so severely that he lost his left arm and his left leg. He was in his mid-20s.

After his discharge from the Army two years later, he returned to Michigan and enrolled in the University of Detroit Law School. He became president of his class and graduated in 1950.

For several years, he was in private practice. Then he went to work for the Bureau of Workers Disability in the state’s Labor Department, serving as a referee, an administrative law judge and a magistrate for 30 years.

He retired about 10 years ago.

“The man had an iron constitution,” Robert Hodges, also a retired administrative law judge, said Thursday.

“We were having a party, and his wife, Mary, called and said they couldn’t make it. He was in the hospital. He’d just had a stroke.

“Then she called the day of the party — four days later — and said, ‘Well, John got out of the
hospital, and he wants to come.’ He stayed to 2 in the morning and said, ‘It’s been a long day. I think I better get home.’

“All the years I knew him, I never heard him once issue any bitterness or complaint about his condition.”

Mr. Conley dealt with workers seeking payment for disabilities — often disabilities much less serious than his own.

“He always treated claimants with the greatest respect,” Hodges said. “For a lot of us, he was a genuine hero.”

Mr. Conley was born in Marshall and went to elementary and high school there, then to
Assumption University in Windsor.

He was active in the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Besides his wife, survivors include two daughters, Carol Domino and Sarah LaGassa; three
grandchildren, and a sister.

The funeral will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Valentine’s Church, 14841 Beech Daly, Redford Township, where the family will receive friends for half an hour before the service. Burial will be later in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

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