Last week, workers discovered an elderly woman dead in an outdoor heating and air conditioning unit at a local middle school here in Waco. The paper reported that she was "clothed in her bathrobe and slippers," and "huddled up in the corner of the unit." Initially, local authorities were unable to identify the body, labeling her Jane Doe.

Excerpted from a
Waco Tribune-Herald story by Erin Quinn in the Wednesday, January 31, 2007 edition (full article here):

"Claire Conger died tormented and alone in a very public way.

"Sadly, she lived her life much the same."

"[Daughter] of former Waco mayor and famed historian Roger Conger..., little was known or said about the girl who was once pretty and popular but later was pulled from Waco High School because of a terrible mental illness."

"Investigators are still looking into what caused her death and why she apparently took refuge inside the [heating and air conditioning] unit."

"Several days passed before Waco police could even identify the woman with the famous roots. Her father was dead. So was her brother. Her husband. And daughter. All that remains of the once-powerful Congers is her 93-year-old mother, Lacy Rose Conger, who resides in a Waco condominium."

"Dental records finally confirmed [Claire Conger's] identity Tuesday."

"But in its heyday, [the Congers were] a prominent Waco family."

"A businessman and one-time mayor, Roger Conger was most revered as a Texas and Waco historian."

"[Conger's wife], Lacy Rose [also belonged to a well-to-do family]. Her father owned a laundry equipment business that Roger Conger eventually took over.

"Roger Conger died in 1996.

"Claire Conger's brother, Roger Lacy Conger, died in a car accident at a young age."

"Claire Conger is remembered as well-liked in high school. Up until her junior year...."

"'She was a straight-A student and one day she was just gone,' said Barbara Martin, a family friend. 'She had a lovely, lovely family. And she was a very nice person. But she was tormented.'"

"Claire Conger was diagnosed with schizophrenia...."

"Medication helped, but the illness often battled back."

For the last two decades of her life she lived alone, unknown and unloved by those who lived nearby.

"To the residents of the complex of townhouses[in which she lived], [Claire Conger] was simply known as an eccentric old woman..., [who] bought expensive cars, drove erratically and often walked around in her nightclothes and slippers."

They had no idea that she once belonged to a celebrated local family.

"[However], they say that none of her neighbors were surprised that she was found dead in such an unlikely place."

Too often we forget how fragile are the threads of family, community and soundness of mind.