Conor Semple was known among friends and family as someone who brought people together. A lover of sports and large gatherings, the 2011 South Side High School graduate regularly organized some kind of social event. Last month, those friends and family came together to celebrate the life of Semple, who died unexpectedly on July 19, at age 27.
“One of Conor’s biggest strengths and passions was organizing events and gathering people together,” his brother, Ryan, 25, said. “Whether it was the Semple Football League, the town basketball tournament or the annual Christmas grab bag, he always looked forward to arranging the next event with his friends, family and loved ones.”
According to Ryan, who lived with his older brother in Manhattan for the past year, not only did Conor enjoy getting his friends together, but he also had a large group of people who cared about him deeply.
“To this day, I have never seen a group of friends that created a holiday for their friend,” Ryan said, “let alone one that lasts nine days.”
The “holiday” started on July 5, 2016, and was called Honor Conor. According to longtime friend Michael Kolonkowski, it grew out of a longing to extend the July Fourth celebration, and caught on. Every year, friends prioritized meeting up over the course of a week, either at the beach or at bars, simply to enjoy the summer. The celebration culminated with a get-together at the Drift in Hampton Bays, Conor’s favorite bar. Two years ago, Kolonkowski said, he made 40 T-shirts with Conor’s image that they all wore.
“He was a very special guy,” Kolonkowski said. “He was the glue that brought a lot of different groups together.”
“Now more than ever, we will keep this tradition alive,” Ryan said, “and continue to honor Conor.”
In his eulogy, Ryan shared a memory of a party at the family’s home on Raymond Street in Rockville Centre before Conor left for Miami University of Ohio. At one point, Ryan said, someone jotted a memory involving Conor on a Post-it Note and left it in the kitchen. By the end of the night, Ryan said, there were more than 30 sticky notes “showing just how special” Conor was as a friend. Ryan still has them.
“He loved to reach out and gather people together,” their father, Mike Semple, said of Conor. “His smile and laugh were infectious.
“Conor had a heart of gold,” Mike added. “Unfortunately, it was a heart that stopped ticking way too soon.”
He remembered his son’s love for the beach and sports, and how he excelled at swimming and soccer from an early age. As he got older, he developed a love for lacrosse and basketball.
“He had that fire-in-the belly, winning mentality,” Mike said. Although when it came to professional teams, Conor “inherited his dad’s losing teams of the Jets and the Mets.”
His love of sports became a career. He earned degrees in sports leadership and management, as well as journalism, at Miami, graduating in 2015. He added a master’s degree in sports marketing from Temple University in 2018, where he worked as assistant athletic director. Since last November, he had been a conference producer at IQPC, an event planner in Manhattan, where he lived with his brother and two friends.
Conor also started a podcast called “Semply Sports” two years ago, sharing his knowledge of sports with friends. “He had a wonderful broadcast voice,” his father said, “and tremendous football IQ.”
“He was just starting to find his stride when his life was cut short,” Mike added.
“He had a beautiful heart and an infectious laugh,” said his mother, Mary Ellen Semple. “He often said he wouldn’t trade this family for the world. We were truly blessed to have him as a son.”
Funeral arrangements were handled by Macken Mortuary in Rockville Centre. The service took place on July 24 at St. Agnes Cathedral.
“Growing up with Conor was an experience, being friends with Conor was an honor, but most of all, learning from him was a privilege,” said longtime friend Michael Marano. “He embodied the best parts of what we look for in people. There were so many lives he has left an impression on, and that is a testament to the man he was brought up to be and lived. There are many things about Conor that I’ll miss, but what I’ll miss most of all was his ability to make you laugh no matter the circumstance.”
“If a life well-lived is one surrounded by friends and family, filled with laughter and smiles, then Conor lived an immeasurably great one,” Daniel Finnegan said. “He gave us all a lifetime of stories, and we’ll spend the rest of our lives sharing them.”