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Anti-poverty nonprofit founder Lori Conley planned her own memorial, complete with cotton candy

Posted: 11:13 PM, Jul 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-27 07:25:47-04

AMELIA, Ohio — Lori Conley’s memorial service Saturday afternoon will include bounce houses, blow-up slides, cotton candy and snow cones. The dress code is casual. Children are welcome.

“That’s who she was,” her husband, Scott Conley, said Friday night. “Everyone she talked to, she shared her faith, her love, her hope, the things Christ asks of us. Love your neighbor and love God.”

And people loved her. Forty-nine-year-old Conley, who died of cancer July 20, was a children’s minister who founded the nonprofit Empower Youth to help Clermont County children living in poverty.

The group’s contributions in its four years of existence have included helping those children attend summer camps and distributing thousands of free meals to food-insecure families during weekends and school breaks.

Conley also helped run leadership programs in local schools, volunteered in the Amelia community and led prayers before football games, her husband said.

“If you start looking at Facebook and stuff” after her death, he added, “everyone has a story. Every one of them has been about love and hope. That’s every story. ‘I’ve been in a rough spot, bad part of my life.’ She’d come in and love them. She’d give them hope.”

She planned her memorial herself, he said. It will include a short service followed by a carnivalesque party — popcorns and cotton candy included.

“I love her plans!” one Facebook commenter wrote in response to the announcement. “This is her!

“Always thinking of others, especially the kids!” wrote another.

Conley’s memorial will start Saturday at 5 p.m. It will be held at Woodland Lakes Christian Camp, one of the summer camps Empower Youth helped participating children attend.