"Kirkwood people have roots that they sink in. You can yank 'em this way and yank 'em that way, but the roots bring them back," said Dave Endres.
When we think about community, we think of family, service, and giving back. Dave Endres, a lifelong Kirkwood resident, embodies all these qualities. As a KHS alumnus of 1972, Dave studied horticulture at Mizzou and, like most Kirkwoodians, returned home after graduation. He worked for his wife's/high school sweetheart's family business, Ahner's Nursery, before he branched out and started Endres Horticultural in the mid-1980s.
"It's easy to get tunnel vision when we provide for our family," Dave said. He and his wife Nancy have two kids, Sara and Stephen, both KHS graduates. However, Dave kept the blinders off, knowing his mission was to give back to the community that gave so much to him. "I had a good life in this community, and I still have a good life in this community," Dave said.
One of his early opportunities to give back to the community came in the mid-1990s. Along with Jim Scott, David Zofness, Bill Moulder, and KHS Athletic director Jim Velton, Dave spear-headed the Diamond Classic Golf Tournament to raise money for needed improvements to the KHS baseball and softball fields. In 1999, with help from Dave's son, Stephen, and his teammates, they first renovated the softball field and then the baseball field, which are still in use over 20 years later.
Inspired by his high school shop teacher, Dave volunteered his time at KHS and shared his woodworking skill and knowledge with Mike Brown's class. Dave took purposeful pride in sharing his passion with the students and made a point to treat each student equally regardless of their unique differences.
Dave is known for driving his tractor in the Green Tree parade, making his 63122 It's About Time corn whiskey, frequenting Spencer's Grill, and popping into my studio to share ideas about how to create community.
"Danny, I have an idea," stated Dave during one recent visit to my studio. "We need to make a long narrow community table and put it in a restaurant," said Dave. "But the catch is, if you choose to sit at that table, you have to tell a story or share something worthwhile with someone else at the table you didn't know before." I smiled and said, "Let's make it happen." With his right eye winked shut, as it often is, he smiled back and said, "We will."
As Dave was leaving my studio, I asked him, "As a man who is all about community, what do you want your legacy to be?" After a brief pause of contemplation, Dave replied humbly, "That I make people smile. It's not about me; it's about the community and what's right for the community, and smiles come along with that."