William Pike Conway      1944

The role of the Catholic Church has in William Pike Conway's life is evident. It starts from the roots of who he is. It starts in his very own name-"My parents name me after the local pastor, Father William Pike," he explains.

His birth in the town of Bardstown and the community of St. Joseph Parish has shaped who he has been these last 70 years.

Conway is a fixture in his church, St. Joseph. He has served as a lector, on the finance committee and the cemetery committee. He is a past member of the St. Joseph Parish Council.

He also is a past Grand Knight and member of the Knights of Columbus Council 1290.

In the community, his service has included past president and member of the Bardstown/Nelson County Chamber of Commerce, vice chairman and director of Farmers Bank and Trust Company for 30 years, and service on the Bardstown Planning and Zoning Board as secretary for four years.

He's been involved with the Bardstown/Nelson County Volunteer Fire Department, the Boy Scouts of America, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the St. Joseph Parish School PTA.

One of his greatest accomplishments, he said, was his involvement in the fund drive for renovation to Flaget Memorial Hospital in 1989. Conway served as Building Fund Drive Chairman at that time and led the hospital in raising $550,000 for renovations.

His accomplishments go on and on and explain many of the awards he has received. He was recognized in 1989 as the Bardstown/Nelson County Chamber of Commerce "Citizen of the Year". In 1991 he was recognized with the "Service To Life Award" by the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.

Conway's involvement with many civic leaders and public officials, on the local level, has put him in good company. But he still relies on his heritage to explain who he is and life he has lived. "I'm only a second generation American," Conway said. "My grandparents on my mother's side came from Italy. My grandfather was born in Ireland." His grandfather came to the United States when he was fifteen years old.

Conway, who is chairman of Conway-Heaton, Inc. in Bardstown, has made his living with the family business. His father, James F. Conway, started the business after working at an assembly plant in Louisville for the Ford Motor Co. In 1919, J.F. Conway established the dealership in Bardstown. His son, Pike Conway, started working at the dealership in 1946. Conway-Heaton, Inc. now is recognized as the oldest Ford Dealership in Kentucky. William Pike Conway is currently chairman. After 30 years as president, he has passed the gauntlet on to his son, Bill, and his nephew, Dick Heaton. Time Magazine recognized Mr. Conway for his efforts by honoring him with the Quality Dealer Award in 1978.

Conway's education in Catholic schools is the focus of his recognition in the Salute to Catholic School Alumni, but his education actually began before he started school, he said. His mother, Norma, made her mark in the community especially with the music club. "Like your mother says, if somebody gives you something, be polite, accept it, and say thank you." Conway has dealt honestly with his community involvement and with his children, Tony, Bill, Ann, and Patrick. He made sure they also attended Catholic schools.

When Conway attended the school now known as Bethlehem High School, it was called Bethlehem Academy. He also went on to St. Joe Prep School in Bardstown, when "the boys and girls were separated," and graduated in the class of 1944. "I feel very fortunate to have received a Catholic education in the Catholic system," he said. "They have a reputation for being real strict and disciplined." This discipline eventually helped him adjust in the Marine Corps. when he joined following his graduation from high school.

Conway said he feels very thankful for the recognition and for the wonderful life he has lived with his wife of 46 years, Marie. "I have received much more than I've given," he said. "We've had a good life and thank the good Lord every day."

Even in the heat of battle, during the final days of World War II, he never suffered an injury. "I guess Father Pike is still looking after me."