Two more notes from Monday’s memorial service for Frank M. Conaway Sr.:
— Nearly all of the speakers at the service were locals. But an outsider’s perspective came from Anthony W. Batts, the Baltimore police commissioner. Batts recalled the first time he met Conaway, during a monthly meeting of the city’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
Conaway kept looking at Batts during the meeting, according to the commissioner, who exchanged looks with Conaway.
“This guy looks like Cab Calloway,” Batts thought, unsure of the man’s identity.
Finally, after the meeting, Batts introduced himself to Conaway as the new police commissioner.
“He proceeded to tell me what he thought about the previous commissioners,” Batts said, to laughter. “He didn’t mince words and said he would say the same things about me if I didn’t do the right thing.”
Batts added he regularly asked Conaway for impromptu history lessons about Baltimore and described the late court clerk telling him “you did good” as the “highest compliment.”
— One person who did not speak at the funeral was Conaway’s wife, Mary. The former register of wills was acknowledged by all of the speakers, even if they did not adhere to her admonition announced at the start of the service that remarks be kept to two minutes or less.
Instead, Mary Conaway wrote a letter to her husband that appeared in the program, titled “The Love of My Life.”
“Frank, my husband, my love, my best friend, it is with great pain that I write this letter, because I realize life will not be the same without you,” the letter begins.
Mary Conaway remembered her husband’s ability to make her laugh at some old jokes “over and over again… until tears ran down my face.” She also mentioned their love of singing and dancing.
“I loved every one of your imperfections for almost 40 years,” she wrote.