Duana Linville Dralus, a woman with a genius for enjoying life and inspiring others how to do the same, died April 10, 2010 in Kansas City just three short years after being recognized as a Woman of the Year. We really should have created a Woman of the Decade award for Duana because she stands in a class all of her own when it comes to her commitment to Greater Missouri.
“Life,” according to Duana, “is about relationships” and she lived that principal, acquiring one of the largest collections of cherished family, school friends, cronies, sorority sisters, UMKC colleagues, mentored “adopted daughters,” political pals and assorted buddies in recent Missouri history. Some people have a rare talent for connecting with others, sharing in their good times and bad ones, and holding on to people for life. Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping Point” has called these people “connectors” – people with a special gift for bringing the world together. For Duana, that might mean buying a table at one of her favorite charitable events and inviting a dozen unrelated people to have dinner together. It might mean renting a house on the Florida beach and inviting family and friends to come on down in a big messy mix. It might mean chairing the board of a nonprofit organization, helping a young person find a job, having lunch with a friend, speaking at a Rotary meeting, UMKC event or a Women’s Foundation seminar.
After attending McKinley High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Duana began a lifelong career of learning, as well as educating and mentoring others. She earned BA and MA degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). From her early days as a teacher in the Kansas City public schools to her work as lobbyist, director of Instructional Video and Director of Community Relations for UMKC, Duana created bonds with everyone she met, from students to university presidents and politicians. Somehow people who needed some help in establishing a career or learning the ropes instinctively knew she would give them a hand, making it nearly impossible to count the number of people who benefited from her mentoring and unmitigated support.
Duana’s parents taught her the value of giving back, and she shared her skills, wisdom and resources through countless volunteer activities including terms as: Mid-Continent Council, Girl Scouts, President; Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Luncheon co–chair; Coro Foundation, President and board member; KCUR-FM Advisory Board; Women’s Intersport Network-Kansas City, (Sports Commission) board member; and UMKC Alumni Governing Board, President. Her state and national volunteer experience included: Greater Missouri Foundation Inc., President; Missouri Arthritis Resource Board; Missouri Rural Health Commission; Missouri Head Injury Council; National Fire Safety Administration; and Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Governmental Relations Committee.
Life was also about, Duana believed, ignoring as much of the nasty stuff as possible and focusing on the good stuff. Those who look at pictures of Duana notice she’s always laughing – laughing at herself, laughing with her friends, and even laughing – through a decade of chemo – at cancer. She must have had bad times, but she mostly kept them to herself. Instead of letting cancer “be her life,” she decided to keep making new friends, enjoying the old ones and savoring her relationships with Deb, Doug and her family. To keep living: to sing “The Impossible Dream” with the nurses at Kansas City Hospice and leave instructions for a party to follow her funeral service. Duana spent some of her happiest days with John Dralus and the two stray dogs Rose and Lucy she adopted and spoiled beyond belief, all of whom preceded her in death, as did her parents Richard and Ruby Rankin. She was preceded in death by former husband Ron Bean, survived by former husband Malcolm Linville, Jr. of Kansas City Mo; daughter Deborah and husband Jeff Arnswald of Boise, Idaho; son Doug Linville and wife Anita Linville of Kansas City; brother Duane and wife Jane Rankin of Mexico, Mo; grandson Jake Lee Hanne of Singapore; and nieces and nephews Mike Rankin, Bill Rankin, Therese Rankin and Matthew Rankin.
Her final wish was for her survivors to take care of one another.