2024-02-07

  • Faith: Christian - Catholic
  • Career: Author
  • Birthday:  October 26, 1945
  • Date of Death:  March 04, 2016
  • Accomplishments:  Honorary Degree

Pat Conroy was an author who wrote several acclaimed memoirs and novels. His books The Water is Wide, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, and The Great Santini were made into movies, the last two being nominated for Oscars. He’s recognized as a leading figure of late 20th-century Southern literature. Conroy was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest of seven children born to Donald Conroy and Frances Peek-Conroy. His father was a Marine Corps fighter pilot, and the family moved often in his youth, attending 11 schools by the time he was 15.

He didn’t have a hometown until his family settled in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he finished high school. During his senior year of high school, Conroy was a protégé of Ann Head, who influenced his future writing. His alma mater is The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina in Charleston, where he graduated from the Corps of Cadets portion as an English major. Conroy has said his military brat upbringing heavily influenced his stories, and in particular, challenges experienced with his father, who was emotionally and physically abusive toward his children.

The pain of a youth growing up in a harsh environment is apparent in Conroy’s novels, which use autobiographical material, particularly The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini. While living in Florida, Conroy’s fifth-grade basketball team beat a team of sixth graders, making the sport his primary outlet for pent-up emotions for more than a dozen years. He also cites his family’s frequent military-related moves and growing up immersed in military culture as significant influences in his life in both negative and positive ways. As a standout athlete, Conroy was recruited to The Citadel to play basketball. His 2002 book, My Losing Season, focused on his experiences playing his senior year and, like The Lords of Discipline, also served as a retrospective of his cadet years.

On February 15, 2016, Conroy announced on his Facebook page that he was being treated for pancreatic cancer. He died on March 4, 2016, at 70 years old. His funeral was held at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Beaufort, South Carolina. Conroy is buried in St. Helena Memorial Gardens cemetery near the Penn Center.

What religion was Pat Conroy?

Pat Conroy was raised a Roman Catholic. In his book Confessions of an Ex-Catholic, he describes the love he had for Catholic mass rituals, the Georgian chants, and the prayer even though he left the character and swore never to return. He adds that, although he was thankful for his childhood, he would never force his children into the church, proclaiming that while he was an ex-Catholic, he was still part of the church and forever will be. The purpose of his confession was to admit and convince the reader that even after leaving a particular belief or religion, one is always part of it, and it is part of you.



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