Dan L. Conyers, 71, passed away quietly on June 9, 2022 in Shawnee, Kansas. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Karen Kraft Conyers; sons Eric (Minda), Andrew (Haley), and Michael (Dominique Magno); sisters Debby Haines and Becky Peer; grandchildren Rachael, James, Zoe, Wade, and Briggs; ex-wife Nancy Wagner; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Helen Conyers; his sister Mary Dowd; and two young children, Joshua Andrew and Jennifer Elaine Conyers.
Dan was born July 9, 1950 in Eugene, Oregon. As the son of a minister, he moved frequently with his family, living in small towns in Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, and Kansas after his father completed a theology degree. Dan learned to make friends quickly. He was quick-witted, extroverted, and academically outstanding, leaving an impression wherever he went. He also developed a strong work ethic, which served him well throughout his life.
Dan obtained a baccalaureate degree in anthropology at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. After graduate courses in childhood development and behavioral psychology, he completed the Respiratory Therapy program at the University of Kansas Medical Center and began a 40-year career at what is now The University of Kansas Health System. He worked his way up through the Respiratory Therapy department, starting as a student equipment aide and then advancing to patient care and supervisory roles. In 1995, Dan graduated with a master’s degree in management from Baker University. He retired in 2018, after 12 years as the department director. In addition, he served as an adjunct assistant professor in the Respiratory Care education program.
Dan was known for his passion for patient care and his tireless devotion to the hospital and its staff. He willingly volunteered for projects and committees, and was sought after for his many ideas and his determination to see things through. He was active in the state and national Respiratory Therapy organizations, as well as charitable organizations such as the United Way. He served on the boards of many organizations, from his church, to the local American Heart Association branch, to the KU Credit Union, to the KU Health Professions Alumni Association. He was appointed by the governor to serve on the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts. Especially proud moments were when he was honored with the 2017 Award for Excellence in Leadership at The University of Kansas Health System, and again when he was inducted as a Fellow of the American Association for Respiratory Care, the national organization, for his “profound and sustained contributions” to the profession.
Dan was equally devoted to his family. His time away from work was happily spent with his wife and his boys. Many family vacations were at the beautiful national parks, such as Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Big Bend, and Denali. Dan and Karen took a long train trip through the breathtaking Canadian Rockies. And Dan loved canoeing – oh, how he loved canoeing! – mostly on the rivers of Missouri and Arkansas. Dan also became very active in the Boy Scouts as his sons progressed through the ranks, something he had never been able to do as a child.
Dan had many, many interests and never wanted to miss what was going on in the world. Always up-to-date with current events and willing to debate most topics with most people, he was an outspoken liberal. He fondly recalled his “hippie” days in college and his participation in protests and political campaigns. He loved heavy metal music, but he also loved bluegrass. He could harmonize effortlessly when he sang, as he did with his sisters when they were young. He performed in an acapella group in college and in the contemporary music group at Countryside Christian Church. He enjoyed classical music performances as well, and theater in the park, and festivals, and state fairs. Until his later years, he hardly slept – he was so full of energy and a desire to keep on going.
Some years ago, Dan developed mild tremors and lost his sense of smell, and he began having trouble with his balance. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Later he began to develop signs of dementia -- sadly, something that can happen to anyone, and not uncommon with Parkinson’s. It was not his fault and it was not preventable – had it been, he would have made sure it didn’t happen. His difficulties progressed and he spent his last few years at Brookdale Shawnee, an assisted living facility exclusively for dementia patients. There, they provided outstanding care and an extended family for Dan, especially important during the pandemic lockdowns.
The family is planning a private service. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation or Heart to Heart International.Service Information:
The family is planning a private service. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation or Heart to Heart International.