In McDonald, Kan., Duane Wilkens was long known as someone you could turn to for help in the community.
A grain elevator operator, father to three, and grandfather to seven, Duane devoted much of his free time to his family, yet still found time in his busy schedule to lend a hand to organizations in McDonald.
Duane was actively involved in the St. Joseph’s Church Policy Council, the Knights of Columbus, Cheyenne County Wild Life Board, the Cheylin School Board, and McDonald Area Development.
One group that was especially close to his heart was the McDonald Lions Club in which he was a member for 34 years. “The Lions’ motto is ‘we serve,’ and that is exactly what Duane liked to do…to serve and help others,” said Tish Loker, McDonald Lions Club member. “Whenever there was a need in the community and the club could be of service to that need, Duane made sure it got brought to the club’s attention and carried it through. He was always the one that had a huge hand in getting things rounded up and put together for the annual community events. He loved helping people and giving back to the community.”
Duane’s favorite time of year was the club’s Santa Claus day, an annual event which raised money for organizations in McDonald. Duane was always on hand with a big smile on his face, making sure all the families had a great time as they gathered to play games while their kids shared their wish lists with Santa.
When Duane passed away in February 2010, his family was asked if they wished to donate Duane’s corneas for transplant. Even during the most difficult time of their lives, Duane’s family didn’t think twice about helping their father’s caring spirit live on through two cornea recipients.
Duane’s children shared, “Dad always believed in helping others. So when it came time to decide on whether or not Dad’s gift of sight should be donated, there was no question. After all, this is what Dad always wanted. We know he would be so happy to hear that he was able to help others and pay it forward!”
You can join in honoring Lion Duane’s legacy by pledging to be an eye, organ and tissue donor to help those in need. Please visit www.donatelifekansas.com if you reside in Kansas or www.donatelife.net to find a registry in your state.