Jan Conroy, a retired UC Davis communications official, died Sunday after visiting his daughter on Father’s Day as his car drifted off a Sacramento River levee road near Walnut Grove, former colleagues said Monday.
Conroy had worked at UC Davis for 35 years before he retired in 2012 as the executive director of university communications. The Carmichael resident was dedicated to the campus, having graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in 1977. Conroy served in the Navy prior to attending UCD.
He was 67, according to voter records.
Former colleagues grieved Monday as they remembered a man who oversaw the campus magazine and was a respected designer behind many of the logos and symbols familiar to the UC Davis community.
“He was a beautiful man,” said Karen Nikos-Rose, associate director of UC Davis’ news and media relations office. “People are really torn up about it here.”
The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office confirmed Monday that one person was killed Sunday night in a fiery single-car crash on Highway 160 near Walnut Grove but had not yet identified Conroy. Nikos-Rose said members of the UC Davis design staff have been in touch with Conroy’s wife, Gayle.
He was traveling northbound on Highway 160 about 8:42 p.m. Sunday when his car drifted off the west side of the roadway, according to the California Highway Patrol. The car rolled several times down an embankment and ended up on its roof in a drainage ditch. The car caught fire and burned.
“He was coming back from Walnut Creek, where he was visiting his daughter for Father’s Day,” said Nikos-Rose.
Several designers who were close to Conroy were allowed to go home early Monday, Nikos-Rose said. The staff of the news and media relations office plan to devote a page on the university’s website to Conroy and dedicate the next issue of Dateline, an internal publication at UC Davis, to him.
“We want to honor him and his wife’s and family’s wishes,’ said Nikos-Rose.