Donald W. Best passed away peacefully on the morning of Feb 12 after a brief stay in the hospital, St Luke’s East. He will be missed and very fondly remembered by family, friends and a host of civic groups in and around Kansas City.
Don was born on June 1st 1934 in Kansas City to Elton and Mabel Best. He grew up in Northeast KC attending Northeast High School (Class of 1952). He attended University of Missouri, Columbia, for one year before enlisting in the Marine Corps to earn funds so he could return to complete his business degree. While in service with USMC (1953-56) during the Korean War he was stationed in Japan and discharged honorably at the rank of Sergeant and led many honor guards.
Upon returning to KCMO Don re-enrolled at MU with life-long friend, Tom O’Connor. It was then that he began dating his best friend and love of his life – Kay Keirns (also NEHS ’54). They continued dating while Don was at MU and Kay at Baker University in Baldwin City KS. Kay graduated from Baker in 1958 and they were married that summer on June 20th. Kay followed Don to Columbia, MO for his senior year and taught elementary school while pregnant with their first child Christopher – who was born soon after Don graduated in June 1959. Chris was the oldest of three children. Gregory would be born in April of 1961 and their daughter Leighanne in September of 1962. At the invitation of good friends Arlene and Gene Miller, Kay and Don joined the First Presbyterian Church of Independence where they continue to attend as members today. They would make their life and home in Independence, MO except for a few years when Kay and Don were both employed by Tupperware International in Orlando Florida.
Don worked with Gulf Oil following a short time at a bank in Kansas City with careers in finance and accounting. When his father died at an early age he made the decision to join his mother and help lead and manage her Tupperware distributorship for the next 25 years – Best Friend Sales. The Tupperware business allowed the family to travel frequently and see California, Florida, the Grand Tetons and Dakotas, Mexico City and Hawaii. When the children were entering high school in Independence the family decided to make the most of their vacation time in the Colorado Rockies where they shared a condo as members of the ‘Awesome’ Group, skiing and hiking Summit County for almost 30 years. Don’s sudden passing leaves behind a loving family and many friends: his wife of 62 years, Kay K Best (best friend for over 65 years), His children, Chris (Judy/Independence) and Leighanne Ruby (Stan/Lee’s Summit, MO). His grandchildren, Jessica Best-Stewart (Brian Stewart/KCMO), Chelsea Best (Rory Kaplan/NYC), Nathan Best (Philadelphia) and Grace Best Maminski (Wayne Maminski/Fulshear, TX) and great grandchildren Parker Best-Maminski and Skylar Maminski. Don was preceded in death by his son Gregory (2005).
Don was ever active in his community, singing in numerous choirs starting with the Belmont Christian Church in KCMO where he sang with his father. He also sang in the First Presbyterian choir most of his life and was able to sing in the Unity Village Choir under the direction of Molly Jessup with his son Chris. He was a member of Rotary Club of Independence and on several boards in the Independence area, YMCA of Independence and The Boys and Girls Club of Independence.
Most of all this deeply supportive and caring man will be lovingly remembered for his gentle demeanor his glowing and generous smile.
In lieu of flowers or food, Don made the request that donations be made in his name to the Boy and Girls of KCMO. Assistance by Funeral Advocates, LLC