David Paul Wiebe, 76, died August 17, 2015, in his Fairway, Kansas home, surrounded by family and close friends. David was born May 12, 1939, in Aberdeen, Idaho to Bernhard and Selma Wiebe. When his father died in 1951, the family moved to Newton, Kan., where he worked several summers on the farm of his Uncle Bill, who became a second father to him. Upon graduating from Bethel College in 1962, he married Wanda Kopper and they moved to California. Rather than enter the military draft, he followed the tenets of his Mennonite faith and became a conscientious objector. While completing his alternative service at a Los Angeles hospital, he was introduced to the field of social work. After the birth of his first child, Mark, the family moved to the Kansas City area, which remained David's home for the rest of his life, and where his second child, Chris, was born. Although divorced in 1977 and single for the next 13 years, David remained close to Wanda and they continued to raise their children together. In 1990, he married Leslie Young. The two shared professional and personal interests, including a love of travel, good food, and gathering with friends. In 1998, they travelled to China to adopt their daughter, Katy. David's commitment to helping the most vulnerable people in society led to a long and fruitful career in community mental health. After receiving his Master of Social Work from the University of Kansas, he worked at Kansas Social Rehabilitation Services, soon establishing himself as a skilled, patient and gentle leader. These traits served him well in administrative positions at Johnson County Mental Health Center and as executive director of Shawnee Community Mental Health Center in Topeka. In 1985, he returned to Johnson County MHC as its executive director, a job he held until his retirement in 2011. David was a leading mental health advocate in Kansas, helping spearhead the state's mental health reform movement in the 1980s and 90s. He served on numerous boards and associations, including as a founding board member of Kids TLC (a position he returned to after retirement), a member of the board of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, and President of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities' Medicaid Committee. In 2007, he received the National Council's Lifetime Achievement Award. Upon retirement, David was named president of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, a position he held until his death. David was an avid tennis player, and a loyal fan of the Royals and KU basketball. He loved good wine, a well- manicured lawn, grilling and hanging out with family and friends on his deck. His professional accomplishments notwithstanding, he will be mostly remembered for the steadfast love and kindness he showed his family, friends, and colleagues, and a smile that rarely waned. David is survived by his wife, Leslie Young,; daughters Katy Lark Young, of the home, and Chris Wiebe, Bellingham, Wash.; son Mark Wiebe (Anne Bloos), Roeland Park; grandchildren Quinn and Noah Brady, Sorrel, Madrona, Wren and Amber Hartford; brother Henry Wiebe (Bonnie), Rolla, Mo.; father-in-law Lee Young of Lawrence; sister-in- law Cathy Little (Rodney) of Mesick, Mich.; brother-in-law Kenny Young, of Shawnee; his first wife, Wanda Lowenstein (Hal) of Kansas City; and many beloved nieces, nephews and cousins. A celebration of David's life will be held 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21, at Rainbow Mennonite Church, 1444 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Kan. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to Friends of Johnson County Mental Health in care of the David Wiebe Staff Development Memorial Fund, 6000 Lamar Ave. Ste. 130, Mission, Kan., 66202. M
Published in Kansas City Star on Aug. 20, 2015.