David Ray Paulek died December 12, 2019, at his home outside of Keosauqua after living 2 1/2
years with brain cancer. He was 72.
Dave was raised on a 40 acre farm complete with fishing pond and vintage Massey Ferguson
tractor outside of Springfield, IL, much like the one he was to build outside of Keosauqua. His dad,
Albert, was a millwright for Pillsbury; his mother, a homemaker, who conducted interviews for
her prospective collie buyers at the kitchen table. Dave’s stories of trudging to the school bus
through the snow with his tuba on his back had questionable influence on his own children, but
the story was still repeated. He was “baby brother” to older sister, Jo, and older brother, Tony,
and used that to his advantage as often as possible. His mother, Opal Paulek, was so disappointed
that he had moved “out West” to Iowa and never gave up hope that he would move back home.
He received his BA & MA from Western Illinois University, married Kathleen in 1969, and moved
to Keosauqua where they had 3 children, Mark, Adam & Megan, lots of dogs & cats, horses, and
that 40 acre farm with fishing pond and vintage Massey.
Most of his life was spent as an educator. He taught English & Speech at Van Buren High School
and IHCC for over 40 years. His literature and writing classes gave him lifetime friends in his
He tried politics for a few years, was one of very few Democrats elected County Supervisor in Van
Buren County. Small towns offer many opportunities and Dave enjoyed those: Van Buren
Conservation Board President, Van Buren Education Association President, Teacher of the Year,
Van Buren Players President, Safe Schools Director, 3X VBHS Graduation Speaker, Rotary Paul
Harris Fellow, Van Buren Retired Teachers President, Outstanding Citizen of the Year and Grand
Marshall for the 2018 Scenic Drive Parade.
One of his passions was theatre. He and his wife, Kathleen, began directing plays and musicals for
Van Buren Schools, Van Buren Players, and DownRiver Theatre, in the early 70’s, over 200
productions ago. Dave enjoyed directing, acting and developing the Roberts Building into a
theatre still used by the community today. Having one of the oldest community theaters in Iowa
made him proud. He was so pleased to see former students carry it on and keep it alive today.
After retirement he had the opportunity to work with Leroy & Lavern Borntrager in their custom
cabinetry business. There he was able to learn furniture making. Friends and family have many
pieces in their homes from these years.
Dave was a writer, he recently wrote, “When I was young, I had most things figured out. I knew
where I wanted to live (in the south pasture); married to Sharon (I didn’t know any Sharons, but I
liked the name); and how many kids we’d have: six. It’s surprising how many things don’t work
out the way you had them planned, but at least I was thinking about the future. Lots of things
changed, but some remained solid. We did end up on a farm, only it’s in Iowa. Kathleen is a far
better name than Sharon (apologies to the Sharons reading this). And three kids worked out just
He and Kathleen were married 50 years, they traveled and traveled, but never found any place
that they loved more than Keosauqua and that 40 acre farm.
David was preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Opal Paulek. Surviving are his wife,
Kathleen, his sons, Mark David (Jeanne) of Concord, MA, Adam David (Anne Tyler) of Farmville,
VA, his daughter, Megan Kathleen Kunz (Tim) of St. Paul, MN; his sister, Anita Jo Jakupcak (Mike),
his brother, Albert A. Paulek (Teresa), Grandchildren: Olivia Paulek, Elliott Paulek, Curtis Kunz,
and Leo Kunz. His “shared cousins”, Cheryll & Gerald Clamon of Iowa City. Also, many nieces and
nephews. And his dog, Ted.
David’s body has been cremated. A visitation and Celebration of his Life will be held at a later
Hope Lodge of Iowa City and EveryStep Hospice are his memorial choices. Dave was diagnosed
with brain cancer in July, 2017. Words cannot express how important the UIHC Oncology
Department has been to his last 2 years. Hope Lodge gave him & Kathleen lodging during several
months of radiation. EveryStep Hospice gave all of the family peace of mind and a feeling of not
being alone during his last days. Pedrick Funeral Home is assisting the family and online
condolences may be directed to www.pedrickfuneralhome.com.