Donald Howard Essington, 84, long time Council Grove, KS dentist and resident, passed away Monday, July 8, at the Morris County Hospital.
He was born February 6, 1929 to James Gipson Essington and Ruby Donaldson Essington in Huey, Illinois. He graduated from East High School in Denver, Colorado in 1946 and from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1950. He then moved to Kansas City to attend the U.M.K.C. School of Dentistry, receiving his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree there in 1955. While there, he met the love of his life, Constance Joyce Gorden and the two were married on November 13, 1953 at the Second Creek Christian Church near Platte City, MO.
Upon graduation from dental school, Dr. Essington joined the United States Army where he achieved the rank of captain, practicing dentistry at Fort Crowder, MO during his two year enlistment. The Essington's had the first four of their five children while living in Missouri and then moved to Council Grove, Kansas in 1958 where Dr. Essington purchased the dental practice of Dr. Jim Morrow, succeeding him in the dental office above what is now Aldrich Apothecary on Main Street. Dr. Essington proceeded to practice dentistry at that office for the next 46 years.
While serving as the local dentist and, along with Connie, raising five children, Don also was very active in the community. He served as pack leader and Scoutmaster for Boy Scouts for several years, and led many Boy Scout hikes and campouts. He was a 4-H foods leader, maintained active memberships in the local Rotary Club and the United Methodist Church, and was a 50-year member of Masonic Lodge #36. He was also a member of the American Dental Association, the Kansas Dental Association, and the Flint Hills Dental Association. He served as a Sunday School teacher, and was a past president of Rotary Club and a past president of the Council Grove Chamber of Commerce. He enjoyed his Hearts Club, playing bridge, sailing, and building models, especially of boats, ships, and airplanes. He was a history buff, loved poetry, and enjoyed all kinds of music, but especially opera.
Don and Connie purchased the Stagecoach Motor-tel on North Neosho Street in Council Grove in 1982, completely renovating it and restoring it to its original Victorian splendor, establishing the Cottage House as one of the premier tourist destinations in the Flint Hills. Don, along with son-in-law Dr. Dan Frese, sometimes adopted the role of bellhop when large tour buses checked in, while Connie attended to the rest of the business.
Don retired from dentistry in 2004 for health reasons, but remained active with his gardening hobby as well as keeping up with the activities of his many grandchildren. His most recent trip was to Austin, Texas this past May where he attended the graduation of granddaughter Julia from the University of Texas.
Survivors include wife Connie and son Tom of the home, daughter Donna Frese and husband Dr. Dan of Council Grove, Alan and wife Marianne of Lake Jackson, TX; Ray and wife Ghendi of Neodesha, KS, and Peter and wife Anna of Corpus Christi, TX.; brother Robert Essington and wife Doris of Denver, CO, sister Jean Foglesong of Denver, CO. Grandchildren are Nick Essington of Tulsa, OK; Greg Essington of Kyle, TX; Anna Essington of Navasota, TX, Julia Essington of Austin, TX, Jacob Frese of Kansas City, Abigail Frese of Kansas City, Emily Frese of Lawrence, Timothy Frese of Lawrence, Natalie Cuellar and husband Gabriel, Sr. of Corpus Christi, TX, and Piper Essington of Neodesha. Great-grandchildren are Jonathyn Molinar, Gabriel Cuellar, Jr. and Madalyn Cuellar of Corpus Christi, TX. He was preceded in death by his brother, James Essington of Albuquerque, NM.
Memorial contributions may be made in Dr. Essington's name to Operation Smile, to the Council Grove/Dunlap United Methodist Church, or to the Bowers Center, and may be sent in care of Penwell-Gabel, PO Box 273, Council Grove, KS 66846.