By RENEE FITE
Bo Connor is another Tahlequah son who credits his hometown influence with much of his success in life.
Connor, a vice president and wealth management adviser at Merrill Lynch in Tulsa, said he enjoys the strategic aspect of his business.
“But what I enjoy most is the relational aspect. I am privileged to work with, and for, a lot of great people,” he said.
Connor earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University, and a Juris Doctorate and MBA from The University of Oklahoma.
“My plan was always to go to law school and become a corporate or tax attorney. I did everything according to plan, except I ended up at Merrill Lynch instead of practicing law,” he said.
Connor was born in Tahlequah, and brought home from the hospital to the same house in which his parents, Wes and Brooks, still live today.
Connor believes the people make growing up in Tahlequah great.
“I know it is cliché, but the people of Tahlequah are thoughtful, honest, caring, and genuine, and when you grow up there, you know you are part of a tight-knit community that takes care of its own,” Connor said.
Connor said growing up in Tahlequah equipped him for life, both personally and professionally.
“I have observed over the years that a disproportionate share of successful business people come from small towns like Tahlequah. I don’t think that is coincidental,” Connor said. “You learn honesty, integrity, authenticity and strong work ethic because that is the way of life, and that leads to success.”
Connor recalled that when he was a child, he always felt safe, no matter where he traveled around town.
“As kids, my friends and I would walk, or ride bikes, literally all over town to whatever backyard football, basketball, or wiffle ball game we had planned,” Connor said. “We always felt safe, and somehow our moms always knew where we had been when we got home. As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a kid.’ I always felt like the whole village was there for me.”
He has maintained a number of childhood friendships, too.
“I tell people all of the time that I was very fortunate to have a great group of friends growing up, all of whom I could include as positive influences, and all of whom I am still friends with to this day – [Including] guys like Jay Baker, Bruce McClure, Damon Talburt, Matt Rader, J.J. Eckert and Danny Davis,” Connor said. “Surrounding myself with these guys was undoubtedly one of the most important things I ever did to spur my life in a positive direction.”
He claims to have way too many good memories of growing up here to name, but said he’ll always remember attending Greenwood Elementary.
“[One good memory is of] my first class at Greenwood Elementary, where Lisa Hart had an incredible jungle gym inside her classroom,” he said. “This was great motivation to behave and get your work done. I also have a lot of great memories on the Illinois River, Lake Tenkiller and Gable Field.”
His dad, Wes, is in the insurance business, and mom Brooks is in real estate.
“My older sister, Maryde Bedenbaugh, graduated from Oklahoma State University, and lives in Morgantown, W.Va., with her husband Bill and their two kids, Will and Lacy,” he said. “My younger sister, Crosby, graduated from Northeastern State University and is working for Good Shepherd Hospice.”
Connor values his family and their efforts.
“My family was incredibly supportive of me growing up, and gave my every advantage and opportunity to succeed. They spent countless dollars and hours traveling and sitting in gyms all over the country so I could chase my dreams,” he said.
A number of people and families had a positive influence on him.
“My heroes growing up were Mike Sheets and my cousin, Steve Connor, and I don’t think any kid in any city in the world could have two better heroes than that,” Connor said.
Most every memory he has of growing up involved the Burris family or the Bailey family in one way or another.
“Both of those families had a tremendous influence on me, and I will always consider them a part of my family,” Connor said. “John Hammer and G.V. Gulager were my youth wrestling coaches, and Tim Baker was our little league baseball and football coach. I also owe a great deal to coach Charlie Cooper and coach Mickey McGowan, Bob Ed and Jo Ellen Culver, Veraman and Billy Davis, Jim McSpadden, Tom and Teensie Eckert, Gary and Veronica McClure, and many, many others.”
Today, his life is about his own family.
“My wife, Lindsey, and I have been married for 15 years, and we are blessed to have two terrific daughters – Littie, 12, and Kylie, 7,” he said.
His hobbies come second to those of his children.
“My kids are at the age where their hobbies have become my hobbies,” he said. “When I’m not working, I spend a lot of time watching 12-year-olds play basketball and cheer, and 7-year-olds doing somersaults,” Connor said. “I enjoy spending time with family and friends, following college football, and playing an occasional round of golf.”
Connor visits Tahlequah several times a year to see family and friends.
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