Donald “Don”‘s Obituary Donald Ray Kuester, beloved husband, devoted father, loyal friend, hands-on science teacher and caring coach died peacefully on November 26, 2022, at the Richland Care Center. Born on July 12, 1933, in St. Louis, Donald (Don) knew he wanted an alternative to the “concrete jungle” of city living. This was cemented in his adolescence, when Don’s parents, Raymond and Olga Kuester, brought him to Pippin Place, a lodge in Waynesville with sweeping views of the Roubidioux Creek. The lodge afforded Don his first job washing dishes. But what changed his life’s trajectory was access to crooked path of the Gasconade River. Its twists and turns and sweeping bluffs captured his spirit, and he would mischievously leave his post to naturally, go fishing. Don graduated from Brentwood High School in St. Louis in 1951 where he played basketball, the trombone and was so popular he was elected the high school mayor for a day. He attended the University of Missouri-Columbia where he received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1956 and was most proud of being a letterman on the tennis team. He then completed a two-year stint in the US Navy. Don spent the summer of 1958 in Colorado working on the Absaroka Range in the central Rocky Mountains on horseback surveying land and lakes. A riding accident necessitated surgery, and while he was recovering, Don decided to pursue graduate school. It was in graduate school in 1960 that Don met 19-year-old Eleanor Gaye Dent, who was a sophomore at Stephens College. The two were immediately smitten. Don said he knew after his second date he wanted to marry Gaye, his “Missy.” Don received his Master of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife in 1961 and was ready to marry Eleanor, but because of their eight-year age gap, his future-mother-in-law insisted her daughter turn 21 before they wed. They waited until three days after Eleanor’s 21st birthday and wed in 1962. Their desire to teach and help others combined with a solid foundation of mutual respect toward one another, deep commitment, unwavering compassion and abiding love allowed them to reach a milestone 60th anniversary in June. Don’s post-graduate career started in Steelville where he taught high school science in 1961. In 1962, the newlyweds were elated to move to Columbia. Don accepted a position as a research biologist completing water quality research with the Missouri Department of Conservation, and Eleanor finished her degree in education. They happily lived in Columbia until 1966, when an opportunity to buy land along the beloved Gasconade presented itself. He and Eleanor bought their current farm and moved to Richland to raise black angus cattle, and Don taught high school science at Crocker. Don arrived at Richland High School to teach high school science in 1969, the same year his daughter Jennifer was born. His son Daniel was born in 1971. Don taught at Richland until retiring in 1993. Don’s classes inspired students who were interested, much like him, in what was going on outside the classroom. His field trips were much anticipated escapes as a group of students hopped in the back of his flatbed pick-up sans permission slips to end up at the Gasconade to observe ecosystems. He took students into the woods to identify trees and flowers and could rattle off Latin surnames of plants. One of his favorite activities was tapping maple trees and painstakingly extracting sap with his students to formulate his own maple syrup and top it off with homemade pancakes for all. Don also influenced countless adults and students through tennis. A prime competitor himself, he started a tennis ladder of weekly competition in Richland. He would get “keyed up” to play these matches as if they held great implications. In the summer, he taught lessons through the park board, and eventually had enough interested players to field Richland’s first high school boys tennis team in 1981 with a girls team to follow soon after. At that time, Richland was one of the smallest public schools in the state to have a tennis program. He not only taught topspin, bending your knees, swinging low to high and how to hit a serve using pronation, he insisted on fair play, good sportsmanship and above all having fun. He would provide racquets for those who couldn’t afford them. Don would drive his own minivan and cart kids to competitions all over the state often stopping at Trotter’s Bar-B-Q on a good day for a smorgasbord of food topped off with a good piece of pie and a hot cup of coffee. His teams were remarkably successful with numerous players advancing to the state tournament in both singles and doubles, and some competed at the collegiate level. Don relished that kids from the country could often swing a racquet just as well, if not better than students from considerably larger public schools and more affluent private schools. Don was not just a coach, but he was a hunter of unseen treasure, giving an opportunity to anyone who could swing a racquet. Don would declare, even for those with scant athletic ability, “I think I can make a player of them.” And often he did. Upon his retirement from teaching, Don was a proud tree farmer. He fully devoted himself to his “field of dreams” which encompasses about 1,000 black walnut trees located along the Gasconade River. As a scientist, these trees became his living experiment where he spent countless hours tending to them, meticulously charting their growth, grafting them and relishing their statuesque beauty. For his many accomplishments, Don rarely took center stage in his own life. His living legacy is that he preferred being a small part of the story of other people’s lives. Anyone wishing to honor his memory can make checks payable to the Don Kuester Scholarship Fund to assist youth in Richland. Don is survived by his wife, Eleanor his loving and devoted partner of 60 years; one daughter Jennifer Barth (Adam) of Flower Mound, TX; one son Daniel Kuester of Manhattan, KS; grandson Dylan Wilford; sister Helen Davis; sister-in-law Patricia Murphy; nephews Mark Davis (Darlene), Sean Murphy, and Patrick Murphy (Shalon); nieces Anne Grothe (Allen), and Carol Moakley (Brien); and many loving friends and extended family members. Don was predeceased by his parents Ray and Olga, brother David, and brother-in-law Michael Murphy. Memorial Service for Don Kuester will be held at Richland United Methodist Church on Thursday, December 1, 2022, at 2:00 P.M. Visitation will begin at 12:00 until service time, also at Richland United Methodist Church. Burial will be at a later date at Oaklawn Cemetery. 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Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Donald Don Ray KUESTER 2022.
Death notice for the town of: Lebanon, state: Missouri