Cecil L. Eyestone
Cecil L. Eyestone, 96, Manhattan, passed away Oct. 1 surrounded by his family. He was born in Lansing, Kansas on Sept. 1, 1920, the son of Ernest Wilbur and Eva Ann Linton Eyestone. He went on to earn a Silver Star in World War II, become a nationally-recognized leader of 4-H and devote himself tirelessly to country, community and family.
Cecil went to country schools growing up and graduated valedictorian from Lansing High School in 1938. He received a $100 scholarship from Union Pacific to attend Kansas State College, where he graduated in 1944 with a degree in agricultural economics.
He served in the Army during World War II. In 1945, he was wounded in the neck and leg during a battle in Germany. Despite the injuries he continued to lead his men and later received the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his valor.
After the war, Cecil was hired as a 4-H extension agent based in Independence. During his 12 years in Montgomery County, he doubled the number of 4-Hers and clubs. His livestock team won the national competition in 1957.
In 1958, he earned a master’s degree in adult education at Colorado State University. He returned to Kansas as a 4-H specialist and moved to Manhattan. He traveled across the state working with different agents and guided the animal science program. He retired in 1977.
Retirement did not slow Cecil down. He continued judging fairs, cheering on the KSU women’s basketball team and supporting programs like the 4-H youth exchange to Japan. He was active with the Flint Hills Veterans Coalition, Pawnee Mental Health Services, Riley County Seniors’ Service Center, Riley County Genealogy Society, Sertoma and First United Methodist Church, where he often served as usher. He spent lots of time in his garden, a true love.
In 2008, he was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C – a distinction he shares with his brother, Merle. He was honored in Montgomery County by his former 4-Hers for his lifetime commitment to 4-H and the positive difference he made in the lives of young people.
Cecil’s legacy will endure in the community. He helped start the Manhattan Farmers Market and establish a World War II memorial on the KSU campus. In his later years, he visited school classrooms to share his stories of World War II. He was particularly proud of being a grand marshal of the Veterans Day Parade in 2012 in Manhattan.
Through it all family was the most important part of Cecil's life. He married Phyllis Jean Hurty, his wife of 72 years , on Sept. 1, 1944. They had 6 children: Carolyn (Tom) Milbourn, Green Bay, WI, Cecilia (Scott) Dolenc, Longmont, CO, Tom (Mitzi) Eyestone, Manhattan, KS, Jim Eyestone (deceased 2013), Allen (Beth) Eyestone, Wellington, FL, Gregg (Gwen) Eyestone, Keats, KS. He was very proud of his 13 grandchildren: Tami, Toni, Todd, Tad, Brett, Ben, Brooke, Erik, Kyle, Kirsten, Gibson, Whitley and Jessica and 14 great-grandchildren: Riley, Kelton, Maxson, Eleanor, Vivian, Emily, Sophie, Lucie, Marin, Toben, Mckenna, Oakley, Lilly Ann and Emma.
Cecil was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Merle and sister-in-law Willa Deanne and son, Jim.
Thank you Dad for the memories, your guidance and the love you gave us. We will miss you always.
The family will receive friends during a visitation from 4:00 until 5:30 p.m. Sunday, October 9, 2016, at the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home.
Funeral services will be held 10:30 a.m. Monday, October 10. 2016, at the First United Methodist Church, 612 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan with Reverend Troy Bowers officiating. Graveside services with military honors will be held that afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery at Ft. Riley, in Manhattan.
To leave an on-line condolence for the family, please click on "Send Condolences" on this webpage.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider making a donation in Cecil’s memory to Pawnee Mental Health Services Endowment Fund, the Kansas 4-H Foundation, First United Methodist Church of Manhattan, KSU Foundation-for KSU Gardens or Montgomery County 4-H Foundation-for the Cecil L. Eyestone 4-H Scholarship Fund. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.