Remembering Conner Bickford

The special connection that changed many


Maria Hudson

I distinctly remember the day I met Conner Russell Bickford. I was a closeted 14-year-old coming into the Rocklin High School campus with absolutely no idea what to expect, how to act, or where to place my next step. In many ways I was reserved, shy, wondering who would end up growing close to me and how I was going to grow up to be whatever I was meant to be.

Conner opened up my doors the day I met him. Before me was this six-foot something, bright eyed, beaming young man who was already smothering me in the biggest hug I think I have ever received whilst crying out with insurmountable joy, “Hi, I’m Conner!”

And it did not end there.

He was open about himself in a way that was so unapologetic I was able to look myself in the mirror and accept my own identity. He talked me through coming out to my parents after expressing to me his own experience with doing so. He comforted me in my times of need, he was in homemade films that we were both a part of where we would often spend hours doing take after take in the blazing heat of summer or the freezing cold of winter. He helped me to be a stronger, more confident musician and taught me many of the technicalities that come with professionally recording music.

The list goes on, as it does for all of those who were close to him. Conner made an impact everywhere he went and he was everywhere always due to his involvement in so many different groups and activities inside and outside of school.

“I had Conner in my US History course and he always had a witty comment or insightful observation to share with the class,” reflects Julianne Benzel, “He was an undeniable presence in the classroom; his energy and passion were prevalent everyday”

“I remember telling Conner I wasn’t really a woman and not really a man,” admits Caitlin Rogers, a current senior and a dear friend of Conner’s, “and I told him how my parents weren’t as okay with it as I thought they’d be. He just said that he didn’t care what my gender was, what clothes I wore, how I did my hair, what kind of shoes I wore…none of it mattered. Whatever I identified as, I was.”

RHS senior Thomas Hay said that “Conner was like [his] older brother. He was always there when [he] needed a friend and he would go out of his way and literally spend another gallon of gas on me just to drive [him] home some days.”

Merek Marquez, another friend of Conner’s and former RHS student said that Conner was “someone you’d want to go party with, but also someone you could have an intellectual chat with” and that “when you watched him play an instrument, you saw passion and contentment. He was talented, social, funny and happy.”

Anyone close to Conner knew of the beautiful heart he had and the passion that drove him to places others still strive to reach. His memorial service will take place at the Rocklin Event Center off of Sunset Boulevard on Sunday January 21st at noon. Everyone is welcome to attend and there will be opportunities for people to share their own memories of him.

“Conner will always be a friend,” Marquez concluded during my talk with him, “Our time together will always be remembered.”

Everyone is going to remember Conner Bickford. I know I for one, could never forget one of the most important men in my life who helped me to be me. I could never ask for more from a friend. He really went above and beyond.