Born in San Jose, Andrea “Punky” Conway ’73 learned what it meant to be a strong, independent woman from her mother, Sylvia “Skipper”, who was widowed when Punky was 5 years old. Skipper also instilled in Punky the importance of family, as she was very close to her own siblings, who played a vital role in her children’s upbringings. Punky was blessed to grow up with many cousins, attending St. Clare Elementary School and Mother Butler Memorial High School with them. While at SCU, Punky made lifelong friends through the Foxy Ladies Powder Puff team and met the love of her life, Patrick Conway. Pat and Punky married on Oct. 5, 1974, in the Mission Church. Punky walked down the aisle with flowers in her hair; she was not to be outdone by Pat, who was sporting a powder blue tuxedo. As newlyweds and young parents, Pat and Punky maintained close friendships with their college friends. They spent summers vacationing together on camping trips in the Chambers Landing area of Lake Tahoe, where they taught their children card games and camp songs. The family also spent many summers at Skipper’s beach house in Capitola, which is still a very special place for the family.
Punky had always dreamed of being mother to a large family, and as it turned out, she was very well suited for it. Living in San Rafael, she assumed the role of mother for not just her seven children, but also cared for countless children from the neighborhood. She was selfless and always willing to offer a helping hand, whether driving a carpool, assisting with homework, or just opening her home. Once all of her children were in school, Punky was able to pursue her passion for reading and working with children as a librarian at Vallecito Elementary School. She retired in 2000 and moved to Waukee, Iowa, when Pat was named CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. Shortly after the move, Punky rediscovered the great outdoors and trained for competitive sports through a very active lifestyle. She competed in half marathons, lifted weights at Spartan Strength, practiced her net game at Lifetime Fitness and Aspen Tennis Club, drove the ball at Des Moines Golf, and played doubles at Palm Valley Country Club. As a reward, Punky liked to treat herself to a skim mocha with half the chocolate and no whip, which would accompany her on strolls around the local lakes. In her downtime, she was a voracious reader who appreciated all genres and styles. As her children have attested, Punky (aka “Grandma Munky”), especially loved reading to her grandchildren. She also surrounded herself with women who loved what she loved: tennis and reading. In 2001, her tennis friends formed the Courtside Critics, a book club for tennis and book lovers.
Punky was a devoted mother, loving wife, adoring grandmother and inspiring friend to many. She was adventurous, full of life, and eager to get outside—often the first in the family to explore a new trail or park. While she loved the outdoors, she seemed happiest helping and supporting others. This generosity and compassion often extended beyond friends and family, including support for the Anawim Housing’s Women Empowering Families program, which provides safe, affordable homes for women and families—many of whom are single mothers. She was also a member of Prism, a women’s networking and social interaction group that focuses on creating awareness of community issues and needs and developing contacts with others in business. But paramount to all activities she joined was the intent to have a good time while bettering the community and herself. Punky passed away suddenly but peacefully on June 11 while hiking through Walnut Woods Park in West Des Moines, Iowa. She is survived by her husband, Pat Conway; seven children: Michael, Kevin (Samantha), Alison (Jason Vogt), Betsy (Chris) Fryday ’04, Brian (Megan), Dan (Katie Griffen), and Kaitlin (Jeff) Thompson; nine grandchildren: Amelia, Andrew, Nathan, Elliott, Declan, Vincent, Joseph, Brynlee, and Cooper; and siblings Charlie (Leigh), Rosie (Clive) Hallatt, and Jerry. Punky is now in heaven playing Shanghai and eating lots of chocolate with her parents, Skipper and Bob Nurre, as well as nephew Joe Nurre.