Chris Connors was the "tough guy."
The guy with the jean jacket with the Iron Maiden and Metallica patches sewn on. Hanging out with his best friend Brian Hager, Connors exuded the self confidence of a guy who didn't care what anybody thought.
But beneath that tough exterior was the proverbial heart of gold.
And on Thursday, a car accident in the town he was raised in claimed his life.
"I've known him since the fourth grade," sister-in-law Melissa Altadonna Kramer said. "He was a tough, wild, free-spirited guy with a true genuine heart who would never intentionally hurt anyone."
When Connors married Kramer's sister, Michelle, she told him he had to be nice to her to make up for all the teasing at Sandshore School, middle school and high school.
"But the truth was? He was never really mean to me," Kramer said. "Or to anyone."
Connors' family remembers him as being devoted to them, and there were a lot of them to be devoted to. Connors and his wife, Michelle, share four children Michael, 12, Alexis, 11, Justin, 8, and Kayla, 7. But Connors also had the time of his life being an uncle.
"Between Chris' sister, brother and Michelle's sisters and brother there was constantly a new baby around for years, and he loved babies," Kramer said. "You could guarantee he'd be sitting on the couch holding a sleeping baby at every family gathering whether it was his baby or a niece or nephew."
Connors, according to family and friends, was the kind of person who thought about others first and had more friends than he could count. Recently, he was called a hero for saving a neighbor from a burning trailer. Not by calling 911 or using a hose. Connors went into the burning camper and pulled 38-year-old Robert Filipkowski out.
"He was loved by everyone. Not only was he a great son, son-in-law, friend, uncle, brother and brother-in-law, he was a wonderful husband and father," Kramer said. "He put his kids and wife first and made sure they had everything they needed and wanted. He will truely be missed by so many."
A viewing for those wishing to pay respects will be Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Cochran Funeral Home in Hackettstown. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Monday.
According to Kramer, Connors worked hard to keep his family afloat, despite tough times and they are accepting donations through the PNC Bank in Belvidere.
Donations can be made by going to the bank or by mailing a card to the bank for the "Connors Family Fund" at PNC Bank, 101 Mansfield St., Belvidere, NJ, 07823.