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An extraordinary obituary details the essence of KC’s David Jenkins

David Jenkins died Jan. 9 at age 93.
David Jenkins died Jan. 9 at age 93.

“There has never been anybody remotely like David Jenkins.”

So goes the first line in an obituary published in Sunday’s Star.

By newspaper standards, David Cromwell Jenkins’s obituary was enormous. At three-and-a-half columns, it took up more than half the page.

Whoever wrote it knew how to hook a reader’s interest, from that first line, and how to pluck the best parts from a life that spanned 93 years. The obit touches on how Jenkins, who died Jan. 9, fell in love with planes and the sea and how he and his sister, Mollie, lost their mother at a young age.

“For the rest of their lives, David and Mollie would say ‘that was before mother’s death,’ or ‘that was after mother’s death’ — it was the signal event from which all others were dated.”

With incredible nuance and detail, the story winds through Jenkins’ years with the Royal Air Force — he apparently would never talk about why he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross — to his arrival in Kansas City more than a half century ago. He was a bachelor until he was 76.

Jenkins “was an environmentalist and conservationist before those terms were in common use,” the obit reads. “To maximize gas mileage he deliberately bought cars without air conditioning, despite 100 degree summers; he preferred to start from a halt in third gear, and he drove his cars until they were nearly antiques.” He preferred to walk or ride his bicycle.

He was also a “notoriously frugal” man who was “generous with charities and with friends.” He wore “the same threadbare and ink stained sport coat for decades” and only played on public golf courses using a set of “ancient” clubs.

If ever an obituary can do a person’s life great justice, this would be one of them.

We would like to know more about Jenkins and his friends. Please contact Darryl Levings at levings@kcstar.com or 816-234-4689.

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