Rauna and John Conner take a scud around Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

John and Rauna Conner don’t like the limelight, but the spotlight shone on them recently when they were among six recipients of the North Carolina Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards.

The Conners, who live in both Ocracoke and Buxton and who founded Conner’s Supermarket in Buxton, were honored for their efforts in providing meals to displaced families and assisting Ocracoke residents with storm clean-up following the destruction of Hurricane Dorian.

After Dorian had passed through Sept. 6, 2019, and done its damage, John could be seen all over Ocracoke Village helping where he could.

“We were in pretty good shape in Buxton,” he said about the aftermath. “We had water in the NAPA Auto Parts store and helped clean that up, but that was about it.”

Rauna and John Conner with their volunteer service awards. Photo courtesy of the Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children.

His and Rauna’s own home also was in pretty good shape, he said, so they let someone else who needed it live in their house and the couple came with their tractor to Ocracoke.

He helped first at Thurston House B&B take flooded items out to the road and then for weeks afterwards they helped wherever they could.

“We’re thankful (about the award),” he said, “But there are a whole lot of other people on Ocracoke that deserve it more than we did.”

Recently, the Conners purchased three lots along Lighthouse Road one of which they cleared for additional parking.

John is doing a little bit of clearing of the other two but has no immediate plans for them.

John and Rauna sold their supermarket to their son and daughter a few years ago.

“We’re real proud of them,” said daughter Angela Conner-Taws.

The North Carolina Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards honor citizens who have shown concern and compassion for their neighbors by making a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service.

Last October, the Ocracoke Strong Kitchen, which evolved after Dorian and went on for about three months after the Baptists on Mission left, received the award.

The award was created by the Office of the Governor in 1979.

Any person, group or entity from the public, nonprofit and private sector may be nominated for an award to their county award coordinator. Hyde’s coordinator is Kris Bowen, literacy and outreach coordinator for the Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children in Washington, Beaufort County.

The Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service began in 2006 to recognize the top 20 to 25 volunteers in the state. 

A statewide panel reviews and evaluates all nominations to determine the award recipients.

Nomination forms for 2022 will be available soon at www.nc.gov/agencies/volunteer/volunteer-awards.

Nominations are usually due in January.

A new parking area along Lighthouse Road at Martha Jane Road asks those using it to make a donation for the Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team, a nonprofit that is managing the state-funded rebuilding from Hurricane Dorian. John Conner, who with his wife Rauna, said he purchased the lot simply to do what he can to help the island.  Photo: C. Leinbach
John Conner cleaning up after Hurricane Dorian with his tractor. Photo: C. Leinbach
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