OBITUARY: Donald Zook

Donald B. Zook, 93, passed away Sept. 30, 2023, at Wesley Medical Center, Wichita, with his children Tamara and Bob at his side.

He was born Nov. 20, 1929, at the family farm near Zook, Kansas, the son of Abner Jesse and Ida (White) Zook—born in the same room as his father and his older siblings, Dorothy and Milford.

He went to school at the Zook public school through his sophomore year of high school before transferring to Hesston Academy for his junior and senior years, then continuing at Hesston through his associate degree in education. In 1946, Don participated as a “Seagoing Cowboy” with the Mennonite relief effort of rebuilding Poland after WWII by hauling a shipload of pregnant mares, making him aware of the ravages of war and instilling in him a love of international travel. Don received his bachelor of philosophy at Bethel College and went on to teach and coach for a year at Shallow Water High School before going to Southern Methodist University, where he received his master of divinity. While teaching at Shallow Water High School, he met Natalie Jo Zink, the daughter of the school board president, and they married in 1954. After ordination as a Methodist minister, his first of nine Kansas church appointments was to Palco and Mt. Pleasant congregations (1955-1958), where Don and Natalie’s first child, Tamara Kay, was born. His second appointment was Lindsborg and Bridgeport (1958-1963), where their second child Dana Bob was born. Belle Plaine followed (1963-1967) and Bird City (1967-1973), where he led the design and building of new churches for both congregations. After a summer-long family travel experience in Southeast Asia in 1970, missionary friends contacted Don and Natalie to sponsor Philemon Yamin to the United States and a brother was brought into the extended Zook Family, later providing grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The following appointments were Grace United Methodist, Wichita, Kansas (1973-1977); Hoisington (1977-1981); Leoti and Pleasant Valley (1981-1984); Great Bend First Church (1984-9187) and ending his almost 40-year career at the trio appointment of Macksville, Belpre, Trusdale (1987-1993). During his career and then during retirement, Don and Natalie supported international congregations as an interim pastor: Northern Ireland; Northern England; London; Bogata, Columbia; Brazilia, Brazil and Bali, Indonesia. Don and Natalie built a vacation cabin in Pitkin, Colorado, where for 50 years they happily summered. Don loved reading and writing and supporting sports while also exercising daily himself, leading to winning several Kansas Senior Games gold medals, where he was the oldest participant by 20 years. His curiosity about people, politics and places was the driving force of his love of travel, which took him to over 60 countries. Don and Natalie also loved traveling from Alaska to Mexico in their RV.

Don Zook was preceded in death by his mother; father; sister, Dorothy Rishel; brother, Milford Zook; and wife, Natalie Jo (Zink) Zook.

He is survived by his two children, Tamara Zook and Bob Zook, as well as his extended Yamin family, Philemon, Ting Ting; grandchildren, Sheshin (Rob) Yeung and Shiann (Sally) Yamin and great-grandchildren, Jessica, Jacob and Liam, as well as many cousins and Zink and Zook nieces and nephews—grand and great grand.

Don’s celebration of life will be held Friday, Oct 6, at 10 a.m. at Larksfield Place Auditorium at 2727 E. 29th Street N., Wichita, Kansas. The graveside service will be held at Pleasant Valley Township Cemetery, Pawnee County (Zook), Kansas, on Saturday, Oct 7, at 11 a.m., with Pastor Carl Martin presiding.

Memorials may be sent to Pleasant Valley Township Cemetery in care of Beckwith Mortuary, PO Box 477, Larned, KS, 67550. Personal condolences may be left at www.beckwithmortuary.com.

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