In Memory

Don E. Hills (Married To Classmate Patti Beach)

Don E. Hills (Married To Classmate Patti Beach)

Donald E. Hills

April 24, 1951 - January 8, 2024

Overland Park, Kansas - Donald E. Hills, Jr. of Overland Park, KS passed away peacefully at the age of 72 after a brave battle with cancer. He was cherished by so many and if you were lucky enough to know him you understand what a gift it was to be in his circle. He lived a life full of family, friendships, hard work, and love. He was the best husband, father, brother and grandpa and we could not be more proud of how he faced his final chapter of life.

Don was a simple guy- most at peace when he was outdoors fishing or golfing. His love of fishing was passed on to his grandchildren, especially his fishing buddy, Maxwell. They spent thousands of hours on the water together, bonding over their shared passion and of course keeping their boat spotless. He loved his family. He loved animals. He loved his Catalina neighbors. He loved to have fun and his laugh was contagious. His life was truly spectacular and we were so lucky to be loved by him.

Born April 24, 1951, he grew up in Topeka, KS. His beloved mother Molly and sisters Renee, Kay and Lexie helped to shape the man Don (or "Donnie" as they called him) would become. As a teenager, he could often be found hanging with his buddies and stirring up mischief. Their bond was strong and their stories have provided a lifetime of laughs and memories. He graduated from Topeka High School in 1969 and soon joined the Marine Corps. After two years of service during the Vietnam War, he returned home in 1971 and married his high school sweetheart, Patricia Beach Hills. They were married for 51 years and were best friends until the moment he took his last breath.

Don began his lifelong career in the grain business at Topeka Mill and Elevator in 1974 and spent the next 30+ years of his career working for General Mills at the Kansas City Board of Trade. He served in a variety of roles at the KCBT and was elected Chairman of the Board in 1994. Over the course of his career, Big Don built a reputation for being reliable, honest, and fair and was respected by everyone he crossed paths with. He treasured the many friends he made along the way, especially his KCBT BBQ team buddies. Their careers brought them together, but their American Royal BBQ parties were legendary. Don retired from General Mills in 2006 and continued to stay involved in the industry for years to come.

Family man was one of his proudest titles and his kids Emily and Parker hit the jackpot being raised by the best. The role of his lifetime, though, was getting to be Grandpa to his five adoring grandkids- Maxwell, Henry, Carter, Johnny and Caroline. The whole family could be found gathered at the Hills' house every Sunday during football season cheering on the Chiefs. He happily attended more soccer, basketball, baseball, and flag football games, plus golf tournaments, tennis matches, swim & dive meets, school programs, and band concerts than we could ever begin to count. He was simply the BEST Grandpa and little parts of him will live on in the five of them forever. Humor, wit, work ethic, stubbornness, loyalty, integrity, and the fact that there is nothing better than a freshly mowed lawn.

Don is survived by a tribe of people who loved him dearly- his devoted wife, Patricia Hills of Overland Park, his daughter Emily Hills Coughlin and her husband Andy of Overland Park, his son Parker Hills and his wife Melissa of Leawood, KS. Five grandchildren Maxwell, Henry, & Carter Coughlin, Johnny & Caroline Hills. His sisters and brothers in law Renee & Chris Edinger, Kay and Steve Goldstein, Lexie and Gary Grob. Nieces and nephews he adored. Countless friends that he loved like family. He was preceded in death by his parents Molly Irene Maxwell and Donald E. Hills Sr., niece Robyn Summers, nephews Taylor Grob and James Beach.

A service will be held on Monday, January 15, 2024 at 1:00 PM at Leawood Presbyterian Church, 2715 W 83rd St, Leawood, KS 66206. Reception to follow at the Brookridge Clubhouse 8223 W 103rd St, Overland Park, KS 66212.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Midwest Transplant Network in Don's honor.

Published by Kansas City Star on Jan. 13, 2024.

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01/13/24 10:58 AM #4    

Genie Godfrey (Helm)

Patti - so sorry to hear of Don's death. He's obviously left a loving legacy for your family.

01/13/24 11:13 AM #5    

Scott L. Berridge

Patti, I am so sorry to hear about Don's deathI know how hard it is to lose a loved one and I really emphsize with you. My love to you and all your family.

01/14/24 10:50 AM #6    

Lynn E. Holt

Our condolences. So sorry for you and your families loss. 

01/14/24 12:06 PM #7    

Sharon Spaulding (Huskey)

Patti, I am so very sorry for your loss.  Prayers for you and your family.  I have such fond memories of Don.  He always made me laugh.  He was close with my first husband, Jim Duncan, when they both worked for Smaks.  They had a great relationship full of lots of laughs and mutual respect.  Later, when Don went to work for Topeka Mill & Elavator, he worked with my mother.  She adored him.  She said he made showing up for work worth it on the worst of days.  She is 96 and was so pleased when I showed her the picture I'd taken of you and Don at our 50th reunion.  He was a great guy and will be sorely missed.  Sending you love and light.

01/14/24 05:23 PM #8    

Mark Morehouse

My earliest memories of Don is from the time we were in grade school together at Lowman Hill. Classes together as well as emergency and Cub Scout den. Lifting Don, you, and your entire family in my prayers. Something I've shared with others, the next clear night look up in the sky, and the brightest shining star is Don looking down with a smile on his face letting you know he loves you and all is well.

01/14/24 09:54 PM #9    

Chris G Alumbaugh

Dear Patti:  I'm thinking of you and yours with heartfelt sadness...and am sending my wishes that your memories and experiences with Don be a daily reminder of how much he loved you all.  

I'm sure you realize that I know you much better than I did Don, mainly from our years at Gage Elementary then THS.  But I can tell from what I've read about Don that he was the wonderful man who I would wish for you.  

Your life has now changed forever, but it's clear that in Don you had that rare gift of a best friend, and a partner in every aspect of life... For that I'm happy for you, yet can only imagine your loss.  Please remember all of us who have you in our thoughts and prayers.   Fondly, Chris

01/15/24 11:34 AM #10    

William Bentley

Patti I am so sorry for the passing of Don, but your loss is only temporary for through our Savior, Jesus Christ we know this earth life is only temporary and the next will be so much better where life as we know it, will never end.  We will see all of our loved ones again and be with them because of the love of our Savior for each of us and our Father in Heaven.  While we will miss our loved ones for sure, while we are left behind, I hope the forever memories you two made in this life will carry you safely to the end knowing that what is beyond will be even better than one can imagine.  Bill

01/15/24 02:29 PM #11    

Diane K. Ticehurst (Burton)

Dear Patti, when I hear your name or think of you, I still picture the cute litle blonde girl at Gage school. Much later in school, I always picture you with Don. Your loss is heartbreaking and I do not pretend to know what you are going through. Reading about your lives together, the things he loved to do and the family you created together helped me to know what a wonderful life Don had, His life was too short but it sounds like he gave it all he had. I am thankful you were the one to live it with him.

01/15/24 03:17 PM #12    

Linda Breeden (Odell)

Patti, just wanted to comment on how lovely Don's service was. Tom and I came (saw so many Board of Trade and BBQ team folks there) but with the new round of snow on the roads decided to just home instead of coming to the reception, so missed talking with you. So many beautiful memories shared by family and friends, a perfect tribute to (as your son said) a very good man. You all are in thoughts. 

01/15/24 05:07 PM #13    

Marcia K. Hurley (Ellis)

Patti I'm so sorry to hear of Don's passing.  Didn't really know him so much as you ... from back in the Gage School days.  Nothing can prepare one for a loss such as this.  My heart goes out to you.  You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.  Marcia (Hurley) Ellis

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