David Terry Millstein

David Terry Millstein passed away peacefully during the first fall snow, surrounded by his family, on Monday, October 26, 2020 at the age of 75. The cause of death was complications from a three year long battle with Leukemia.

David was born in Kansas City on September 10, 1945 to Tommy and Bertha Millstein. The oldest of two kids, David helped out considerably with the family army surplus business. It was working at the family business that shaped and influenced much of his career later in life as he was surrounded by a variety of gadgets, tools, and machines. “I can’t get this to work” was not something you’d hear from David.

David was a standout track star at Shawnee Mission East, still holding a nearly fifty year old shot put record. After high school he attended the University of Kansas on a track scholarship. It was at the University of Kansas where he met his future wife, Susan, trying to impress her by driving his motorcycle up the stairs of The Wheel. She might not have been impressed at the time but on October 3, 1970 David and Susan were married at the Douglas County courthouse. This year marked their 50th anniversary, and the end of an incredible partnership.

David and Susan started and grew Sunflower from a small surplus and camping store into an all encompassing outdoor sporting goods store. It would be the start of many community inspired businesses.

In the mid-eighties, David started a new project with Charley and Tensie Oldfather to rehab a then dilapidated Liberty Hall. The restoration was a beautiful success: wispy clouds on the walls, murals painted by local artists, elegant chandeliers, and dual Saturns leading all ways. Opening night was a success and showed a play close to David’s heart: the Ballad of Black Jack. The topic at the center of everything that Liberty Hall was, and is, meant to represent.

In addition to David’s professional life, he was an incredible father and husband, always pushing the people whom he loved to keep evolving, work hard, and be compassionate.

At the center of David’s life philosophy was respect. Respect for animals, history, architecture, music, and most importantly his community. To David there was no role too small, no detail too slight. Everything and everyone held equal value to him. He moved through his life with effortless love for what he believed in and made an impact on everyone he met, just as they made an impact on him. From the romantic plains of Kansas to the warm waters of Jamaica, Dave will live on in the electric pinks of the setting sun.

David was preceded in death by his parents and is survived by his wife Susan, sister Cydney (Richard), three children Josh, Audrey (Thomas), and Casey (Eric), three grandchildren, Aliyah, Ira, and Ivy, and two dogs, Donnie and Ruby.

A memorial will be planned for friends and family when we can all safely get together.

Messages & Condolences

From Tom Kurata...

It was spring 1977 when I visited Sunflower and met David for the first time. He was unpacking merchandise that appeared to be indigenous goods from the Andes in South America. We got to talking and before long I was headed home with a list of vendors in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. David asked me to write letters to each in Spanish to start business relationships. A few days later I delivered the letters to David along with English translations. David seemed happy, reached into his pocket and handed me $100 bucks. When I told him he didn’t have to pay me he insisted I keep it. I thought, “what a great guy!” Once the spring semester at KU finished, I stopped by Sunflower to visit Dave and see how things were going. He told me that he was importing goods from several of the vendors in South America. I thought that was wonderful. David thanked me again for writing the letters. He asked me what I was up to. I said I’d be taking a math course for summer school. When I asked David if I could work part time at sunflower he said absolutely. I have to say that was one of the most interesting summers ever in my life. David and Susan were very fun, open-minded and generous spirits. I will miss David very much. I learned so much from David about how to treat people with kindness and respect. I send Susan and their kids my deepest condolences.

From Charlie and Kim Eadie...

Sending love and condolences to Susan and family. So sorry for your loss. David clearly was a force for good, and leaves a positive lasting legacy.

From Lee Collard...

To all of those acquainted. & closer friends, family-Susan, Josh, Audrey, Casey-.y thoughts are with you at this time.
Thank you for all of the good times at Sunflower, Free State, Liberty Hall…
One of the Kindest Hearts of Lawrence is nlw at rest.

From Judy A Green...

So sorry to learn of David’s passing. May his memory be a blessing.
Sincerely, Judy & Conrad

From Connie and John Hey...

Susan and family
We send our sympathy to all of you. David was a very caring man and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.

From james h Mcpartlin...

So Sad to read of David’s passing….Memories go back to the days at KU and the 60s summers in Kansas City. Waking up to the Beatles ” Revolver ” every morning and working together at Naismith Hall. Those were some Very Good Years….

From Regina Strout...

I will miss his kind and loving nature. I never saw him without a smile. Kendra and I were just speaking about David and Susan a few days ago. Our love and prayers go out to you and the family.

From Jeannene Loewenstein...

My deepest condolences to the Millstein Family. May your life full of wonderful memories bring you peace and comfort.

From Kyrstan Hubbel...

Dear Millstein family,
I have beautiful memories of spaghetti dinners and sleepovers in your home. I know it’s silly now, but back then, the only Davids I knew were David Millstein and my dad, so I figured all Davids must be kind, thoughtful, and silly in the best way types of humans. I’m so sorry for your loss.

From Frank Molby...

Dave may be gone, but he will be long remembered by all who knew and loved him.
Sending prayers and condolences to the family.

From Chuck Adams...

Heartbroken to learn of this news. Dave had such a positive impact on so many lives including mine. He and Sue were the best employers ever, Sunflower was a family and he treated everyone with love and respect. I think back on our windsurfing days and how much fun we had figuring out how to sail, and sharing our stories of triumph on the beach. We had a pretty good contingent of Sunflower sailors back then and Dave was our fearless leader-willing to say yes and let us get into this crazy sport. I will carry Dave’s memory with me always. My deepest condolences to Sue and the kids.

From Amy Lozier (Adams)...

Dave & sue were kind to me & my family. I remember ~30 years ago when sunflower & Marti threw a baby shower for us. Dave & I were on the front porch swing, I was nearly 9 months pregnant. The porch swing chains pulled from the ceiling; Dave & I came crashing to the floor. Sunflower gang were quiet till they saw Dave &I laughing, that we were unharmed. – I’m sorry for your loss

From Ted and Karen Zuzzio...

Dear Susan, Josh, Audrey and Casey,
Our deepest sympathies to you all on your loss. We have many fond memories of Dave and your family at many sporting activities, around Baldwin and in Lawrence. Dave touched many lives in a very positive way. We were blessed to be his friend. May you find comfort in your many fond memories together through the years. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time.

From Rachel Guffey...

To the Millstein Family,
Thank you all for your tremendous dedication to our community. We’ve truly lost a role model.

From Natalie Hotchkiss...

Back in the mid 1980s, I worked for David and Susan at Sunflower International. More than 30 years later, I can still say they were the best folks I’ve ever worked for. You couldn’t live in Lawrence and not be positively impacted by David’s sense of community and his humanity. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to Susan and all of David’s kin.

From Sherree Stanley...

Susan and family, I am so sorry to hear of Dave’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you all

From Matt Hyde...

I’m very sorry for your loss. David was so kind, funny and encouraging with me over the years I knew him. Downtown, the heart of our community, is very much the special place it is because of the dreams and efforts of him and your whole family. I’m lucky I got to know him a little bit.

From Phoenix M. Martin...

Dear Susan, Casey, Josh and Audrey. My heart goes out to all of you, sending so much love and infinite electric pink sunsets. I will always feel lucky to have known David and will never ever ever forget how special he made me feel. The most wonderful thing is that is how he made everyone feel, his warmth will last forever ! ♥️♥️✨ Phoenix

From Keith Morantz...

Spent many enjoyable evenings in the early 70’s writing, believe it or not, poetry. All of it terrible. I have fond memories of Dave.

From Kirk Flury...

Spent many hours with David in HS and in Lawrence. Worked one summer in Tulsa with him unpacking a Army surplus supply warehouse which his family business in KC had acquired. He will be missed. One of the best

From Bill Chambers...

I knew Dave at SM East and KU- we were teammates. Last saw him many years ago, but will always remember his work ethic and his desire to see what was around the next corner. My condolences to his family- he won’t be forgotten.

From Emily (Bloss) Carpenter...

Susan, Josh, Audrey, and Casey,
I am so sorry for your loss. I have so many wonderful memories of him and your sweet family. Whether he was cheering his kids on at softball, basketball, track or cross country….he was always there at the end with hug and a smile. He will be greatly missed. Love and miss you all!

From TIMOTHY O’CONNELL...

Dear Josh & Family … Sending much Love and Condolences to you and yours. A Parents passing is never easy and sometimes a sparing relief of ones suffering. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Love from the O’Connell Family of Indiana.

From Patricia Long...

Susan, my regrets that you and David are parted for awhile. Our community has lost a visionary that has shaped us all.With my deepest condolences, Pat Long

From Michael Herzmark...

Susan and kids-
I am so sorry for your loss. The hole is enormous. The world more empty. We were lucky to have him.
David-
Here’s to a magnificent send off into the next stage.
I am sure you’ll have it wrestled to the ground in no time.
Oxox

From Tom & Brenda Mundinger...

Dear Susan, Josh, Audrey and Casey:
We have many fond memories of spending time with David at school, cross-country meets, basketball games, track meets, around town and so many other school and community events. David was always positive and uplifting and just fun to be around. He was good to everyone. It was our honor to call him a friend. Our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to your family.

From John Thompson...

I spent many hours working with Dave on the Liberty Hall renovation. He shaped much of how I later thought and still think. I am saddened to hear of his passing and wish his family well!

From Marti Brill...

Aw, Sue. My heart is broken for you. I have been carrying you, Dave, and your kids in my heart for decades. I’m sending love and peace to you and the rest of the family. The bananas on Dave’s head just reminded me of the banana painting on the office wall. Were they related? 💜

From Cara & Jim Connelly...

Susan,
Thank you and David for the opportunities you gave us over the years. The Casbah was a unique place that gave many of us a way to start a business and go from there. Too many wonderful memories to go into here, but there has never been anything like The Casbah since. Not only did we love it, but our customers loved it, and it was due to your vision. This delightful obituary allowed us to laugh through our tears, and laughter was one of David’s great qualities. Thank you for that and sending our love, Cara & Jim.

From Lynn Byczynski...

I appreciated Dave so much! He was a lovely person who worked for the betterment of Lawrence in so many ways, from Sunflower to Sunrise. He was tenacious but with a sense of humor that made people want to get involved in whatever he was pursuing at the moment. He enriched my life!

From Eric Johnson...

Hey guys,
Sigh…a loss of this magnitude is indescribable…as my pops said to me after my moms passed away, “life begins where words fail.”
Sending all my love to all of you (divvy it out amongst each other as needed). Take care of yourselves.
1LUV ❤️💛💚

From Kate Shreves (Wolfe)...

I did not know David but I did buy a set of camping dishes in the original store which I still use. I also spent many good times in Liberty Hall. He did so much for Lawrence business and the community. He will be greatly missed.

From Jim Mechler...

Sue,
Julia and I send our deepest condences to you and the family. What you and Dave built in the Lawrence community has meant so much to those of us that have been along at various points during the ride. Dave and you looked out for your employees and treated us generously. Sunflower wasn’t about profit over values and it showed in the countless good things both of you did for individuals and the community. Dave will be missed and our world is poorer without him.

From Bootsie Lauridsen...

Dear Susan and children. I’m so sorry that you and the world has lost David. I had the utmost respect for him and the way you lived your lives in the best interest of others and the environment. He will be missed greatly.

From David Paden...

I have fond memories of David’s visits to my classroom. He was such an interesting and informative person. My heart also goes out to Susan, Josh, Audrey, and Casey. It was my privilege to know each of you and you will remain in my thoughts.

From Dennis Maygers...

I am so sorry to hear this news. David was such an interesting and thoughtful person. I truly enjoyed his friendship and our years on Mass. Street. I will never forget the kindness and support that David, and Susan, showed to me in my stained glass work at the Casbah. Not only did they help me get the business started, but then offered years of encouragement, collaboration, and good times.
Please hold him fondly in your hearts and memories, and know that he has touched the lives of many other people who will do the same.

From JENNIFER JOIE WEBSTER...

I have wonderful memories of my Sunflower days with all the family as it grew. Wishing you all to be good to yourselves.

From Tracy Dethloff...

I didn’t know David but thank you my friend for saving Liberty Hall. I can’t tell you how much enjoyment that building has brought me. My sympathy goes out to the family.

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