By Loretta Theriot with Jennifer Conner Morris
Some stories are meant to be told. We know it’s time to tell them because we cannot escape them and wouldn’t if we could. Jennifer’s story is like that.
Jennifer was born July 26, 1978. Her parents Luke and Denise Conner were both students at South Cameron High School when she was born, and she came to live with her grandparents, Adam Conner and Loretta Theriot, on Cheniere Perdue until she was two years old.
As a young child people asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up but she remembers that she had no particular “what” she wanted to be, but she remembers “where” she wanted to be and “who” she wanted to be like. Growing up she wanted nothing more than to be on Cheniere Perdue experiencing things her dad did there. She wanted to be like him even though it seemed like everything and everyone wanted her to be as far away from him as possible.
Her dad rode a Honda motorcycle and young Jennifer’s dream was to grow up and ride with him. As she matured her dream was to work with him, to race with him, to cook with him; just to be in his presence. Her dream was to be his daughter but that was not to happen until she was 36 years old and she moved home which now was Lafayette.
But life had other plans for her, she got to live her dream for only seven years. In those seven years before her father Luke’s death, he gave her a motorcycle and finally she got to ride with him. He was teaching her the fundamentals of racing and they were making plans to race together. Luke raced Harleys, Triumphs, BSAs, and Hondas, all late ‘70s or earlier.
One bike he had and never raced was a 1957 Harley Davidson KRTT. It was purchased by the Richard Erickson Foundation and was put in a museum in Wallsburg, Utah. That bike was sold early this year at the Mecum Auction in Las Vegas along with the other 30 or more bikes from the Luke Conner Collection. Jennifer kept ten other bikes from his collection and one vintage automobile as her share of the estate.
One of these bikes she kept. she thinks is the coolest thing. It’s a 1948 Harley Davidson. This bike has a foot clutch and the shifter is on the tank. Typically bikes have a clutch that’s a lever you squeeze with your hands to engage and you shift gears up and down with your foot. This allows the rider to keep both hands on the bars at all time. This bike is a different breed and it takes a different breed of person to ride one much less to race one.
Before Jennifer or Luke had a chance to ride the bike, it had to be rescued. Originally it had been raced from 1948 to 1956 then it was made into a coffee table. But in 2010 Luke brought it back to life and onto the race track. Luke’s Racecraft Co. sponsored it and he raced it in AHRMA Class C Hand Shift races.
Luke raced other bikes but it is Jennifer’s opinion that this one was his favorite and it’s definitely her favorite now. She rides that bike better than her modern-day bikes.
Jennifer had another dream besides racing and that was to work in her dad’s engineering company CPL Systems. She tells how that dream came true for her.
I started at CPL in 2014 as my father Luke Conner’s personal assistant. While cleaning up his email and speaking with customers about his schedule I wanted to be able to understand what was being discussed so I could communicate better and answer basic customers questions.
I started researching and asking questions. I was also given the task of proof-reading reports for the two land fill gas stations that we monitored remotely. I quickly picked up what was being done and they ended up giving me both sites to monitor and run. I was the one they would call in the middle of the night when the site went down to evaluate the problem and to restart the systems.
While doing my research into what CPL did, I learned there was an EPA Standard that was required for 90% of our customers that we were not participating in. What we do is more in-depth than the standard requires so I questioned why we were not doing that. I also learned that a lot of our customers were not aware of the EPA Standard requirement so that opened up a whole new sales opportunity.
I worked with EPAs to get us on the approved provider list for North America. Then my dad told me to sell it. My first PO was $70,000. I learned about the valves we worked on and briefly ran the valve division until it was dissolved after his passing.
My dream of working with my dad had come true, I was his assistant, remote support tech, sales, accounting, division lead, and now I’m back to sales with the new corporation ISS that bought out CPL Systems.
Life has changed for Jennifer since her father’s death last year, but she’s still living the dream and following in her father’s footsteps.
Happy Birthday Jennifer Dianne!