Skip to Content



John Conover passed away on Sunday, October 4, 2020, at the age of 74. Where he has gone no one knows. John lived a life of much satisfaction and little regret. He loved his family and close friends. His many acquaintances were a significant and continuous pleasure in his life.

John is survived by his wife, Virginia Daugherty. John and Virginia met over a tab of blotter acid on Halloween Eve in 1969 and have remained partners and lovers over the ensuing fifty years. John also leaves his two daughters, Ginnie Daugherty (Rob Pates) and Joey Conover (Jeff Erkelens); two lovely granddaughters, Nora and Sophy Erkelens; three independent grandsons, Seth (Cara), Jack, and Graham Pates; and a sweet yellow cat.

John was raised as an only child in Maplewood, New Jersey by William and Josephine Conover. He came to Charlottesville in the fall of 1963 as a gawky and naïve 17 year old. His introduction to the wider world came through a year spent at the London School of Economics. After graduation John furthered his studies in economics at the University of Chicago. In lieu of being drafted and sent to Vietnam he accepted a teaching position at Norfolk State University. There he met Virginia. Affection and youthful infatuation led them to explore America and its culture through living in a converted bread truck for a year on the road.

Looking for purpose and continuity, John, Virginia and Ginnie settled on Barracks Farm west of Charlottesville and worked organizing for the National Welfare Rights Organization in Nelson County. After four years they started to run a printing business, Black Flag Press; they then moved into town, John went to law school, and Joey was born. The press relocated behind the Vinegar Hill Theatre and was renamed Papercraft Printing & Design. It was sold in 2000 after twenty-seven years of operation.

Not yet seeking retirement, John worked for fifteen years as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Justice Center. It was a refreshing move from the customer always being right to representing people with an opponent almost always in the wrong.

John got much satisfaction working for various community organizations. He enjoyed the different challenges and issues and the opportunity to meet and make friends. He had the honor of serving as Vice-Mayor of the City Council and later as the Chairman of the Charlottesville Democratic Party.

In the mid-1990’s, John fell in with an enjoyable group to plan, plot and build the Rivanna Trail Foundation with the goal of making a woodland trail encircling the City. Live Arts also brought him great pleasure with the opportunity to play many roles. Their mission is to “forge theater and community,” producing excellent work and friendships among the volunteers.

John’s last civic engagement has been working to revive the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, under the belief that we need to rebalance our understanding of our local history. We need to tell a greater variety of relevant stories about our past to help us chart our future as a community.

John embodied G. B. Shaw’s words: “Life… is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on.

Remembrances can be sent to any of the non-profits mentioned above or to Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church.

Back to top