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Chris Conner, musician fighting cancer, dies

Chris Conner, the Columbia musician whose diagnosis of lung cancer rallied the music community, died Wednesday, a spokeswoman for his foundation said. He was 37.

Conner, a member of the popular local band The South, fought his Stage IV lung cancer while friends held numerous fund-raisers for his medical expenses. Fellow musicians put together a tribute album for him, held fund-raising concerts and collected money at just about every major event, including last week’s Vista Lights. Conner was scheduled to perform there, but canceled.

A Celebration of Life service Saturday will be at Mount Horeb United Methodist Church, 1205 Old Cherokee Road, Lexington. A viewing is at 4 p.m. with a service at 6 p.m.

The funeral service is at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mount Horeb United Methodist Church. A graveside service will be immediately afterward at Celestial Memorial Gardens & Mausoleum, 3111 Delree St., West Columbia.

“He’s such an inspiration to me and the community. He’s my big brother and I love him. Chris will always continue to inspire me,” said Brian Conner, Chris Conner’s brother and frontman of Villanova.

Earlier this week Conner underwent procedures to break up blood clots in his vena cavae, the veins that return deoxygenated blood from the body into the heart.

Conner had surgery Wednesday morning at Palmetto Health to remove more clots, said Ashleigh Pair, the family spokesperson. “The surgery went well,” she said. “He got circulation in his legs.”

But later in the evening Conner had complications. “He wasn’t able to breathe,” Pair said. “We just think he was ready to go. “His heart stopped.”

Pair said Conner died at 8:14 p.m.

The Chris Conner Foundation raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Conner, who underwent three surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. In July, doctors said his cancer retreated. In August, he talked to The State about his renewed faith after his diagnosis. “When I was in the hospital and everyone was certain I was going to die, I was terrified. After I had prayed with some folks and got saved, the first thing I asked God for was strength.”

Conner is survived by his wife, Kelly, and son Ace.

Memorials can be made to The Chris Conner Foundation, 1134 Evergreen Avenue, West Columbia, SC, 29169 or connerfoundation.org

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