Thelma Conner (1913-1999) has been called “a visionary entrepreneur who was ahead of her time.” The successful hotel owner was the first woman ever elected to the Ocean City Council, serving from 1976 to 1984. She helped form the Ocean City Museum Society and was instrumental in moving the old Coast Guard building to the Inlet to become the Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, she married Milton Conner in 1940 and moved to Ocean City to join him in the family hotel business. They would manage the Hastings-Miramar Hotel on the Boardwalk before purchasing the Dunes Motel in 1965. Milton died in 1979 but she kept their dream of building a first-class Victorian-style hotel alive. Approaching age 75, Thelma opened the elegant Dunes Manor Hotel on April 1, 1987, explaining, “they said only a fool would open a grand hotel at my age so I opened on April Fool’s Day.”
Her hotel was a major success and at age 81 Thelma Conner received the Maryland Independent Hotelier of the Year award. Although she passed away five years later, her beloved Dunes Manor continues to be one of Ocean City’s finest hotels.
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Lens Art photo courtesy of Dunes Manor Hotel