Don Heath was born on October 1, 1935, in Salina, Kansas to the late Lillian Florence (Lynch) and Alan Earl Heath. He passed away peacefully at home in Lawrence, Kansas, surrounded by his family on December 22, 2021.
Don grew up in Salina and spoke fondly and frequently of the Heath family’s Holsum Bakery as well as his grandparent’s farm near Smithville, Missouri. After graduating from Salina High School (1953) and the University of Kansas (1957), Don returned to Salina as a teacher and administrator for USD 305 until 1984. He worked in real estate and private business and ended his professional career as a part-time faculty member teaching business and economics at Kansas State University in Salina.
Don loved sports, especially basketball. He played basketball at Salina High School and was awarded a freshman basketball letter at the University of Kansas where he was also an active member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. Upon returning to Salina, he served as the boy’s assistant basketball coach at Salina Central where his tenure included a state championship in 1971. Every March he was a staple at the Bicentennial Center in Salina as a volunteer for the 4A State Basketball Tournament, the various junior college basketball events, and each year of the Big 8 Women’s Post-Season Basketball Tournament.
Don was a proud and life-long Kansan. He served in the National Guard, was a long-time member of the Salina Lion’s Club, and was twice elected to the Salina City Commission.
Though his accomplishments were many, all who knew him will greatly miss his enduring sense of humor, unwavering integrity, and his unconditional kindness. Always humble and compassionate, Don put the needs of others ahead of his own. Don was a devoted husband and father.
He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Mary Jo (Wasinger) Heath of Lawrence. His son, Kevin and wife, Meagan; three grandchildren, Alexandra, Owen, and Liliana, who all live in Dublin, Ireland; his daughter, Elizabeth, Lawrence; his mother-in-law, Agnes Wasinger; sister-in-law, Marylin Heath; nephews, Tom and Gary Heath; brother-in-law, Tom Wasinger, and other extended family members. A special thank you to James, Agnes and Nickson for their compassionate care and assistance.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Helen; his brother, Alan; and his nephew, David.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, January 7, 2022 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Lawrence. If attending the mass, masks are required. The Mass will also be live streamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95W86W2dvmE
Inurnment will follow in Salina at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
A celebration of Don’s life will be held at a later date due to the pandemic.
Memorial contributions may be made in Don’s name to Salina Arts and Humanities or Salina Educational Fund and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary 120 W. 13th Street Lawrence, KS 66044.