Obituaries

Kees, Jason David

Jason David Kees, 41, of Louisville, Kentucky, passed away April 27, 2018. He was also known as J Kees or with many just Kees.

Jason attended the University of Louisville School of Music as a pianist. He was selected to be in Collegiate Chorale Master Voices including performances with Kentucky Opera and the Louisville Orchestra. Jason was active in the arts and music community, including University Cardinal Singers, Centrifuge and performing in The Stephen Foster Story.

Jason was employed by Caperton Realty and was previously a manager at Lou Lou Food and Drink and The Courier Journal real estate advertising department.

An avid musician, pet lover, horse show enthusiast and most of all a funny prankster, Jason’s real and abiding passion was family and friends. He sought through wit and humor to instill in others a zest for life, non-judgemental behaviors, a commitment to his community and the power of a smile.

Jason is survived by his parents, sister, aunt and uncle, niece and nephew; his best friend and partner of 16.5 years, Jeff Hunter of Louisville; Jeff’s children, Mason and Morgan Hunter of Louisville, and Davis Hunter of Charleston.

A celebration of life will be held at Gilda’s Club of Louisville, 633 Baxter Ave., on Oct. 21 at 1 p.m.

In lieu of any flowers, a request of memorial contributions can be made in Jason Kees’s name to: Gilda’s Club of Louisville, 633 Baxter Ave, Louisville, KY 40204 or 502.583.0075 for providing the space and generous kindness for his celebration.

It is asked that you spend time with family and friends, cherish your moments and make a toast to enduring friendships, lifelong and beyond. That is what Jason would want.

Saunders Sr., Dudley Franklin

Dudley Franklin Saunders Sr. passed away at his home on Sept. 26. He was 90 years old.

The great-great-grandson of Daniel Boone, Dudley was born June 1, 1928, to the late Dudley Forrest Saunders and Dolly Boone Saunders of Lexington, Kentucky. His early years were split between Lexington and life on the carnival circuit, which his family worked through the Great Depression and into the 1940s, instilling in him a passion for adventure, showmanship and diversity.

After serving in the Korean War, writing about the testing of the hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific, he returned to Lexington, finishing his degree at the University of Kentucky while simultaneously working in local theater, radio dramas and outdoor dramas, most memorably “Wilderness Road” in Berea, Kentucky.

Turning to full-time journalism, Dudley first worked in Lexington television and radio before moving on to report for papers and stations in Florida. In 1962, he returned to Kentucky to write for The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times, where he quickly rose to chief arts critic, covering local and national film, television and theater. In his early years on the paper, he helped build support for the formation of Actors Theatre of Louisville with a series of feature articles profiling the then-nascent regional theater movement.

After retiring in 1990, he became a founding columnist for the new Louisville Eccentric Observer (the LEO Weekly), wrote and directed several plays and musicals (most notably at Derby Dinner Playhouse) and began to teach at the University of Kentucky. However, the most impactful work of his post-retirement years was in conservation. He both served on the board of the Louisville/Jefferson County Environmental Trust and Forest and worked as a trail ranger, physically patrolling and maintaining forest trails throughout the Jefferson Memorial Forest. And as a founding board member of Wilderness Louisville, he helped secure funds to connect the Tom Wallace, Horine and Paul Yost Forest section via a trail (today known affectionately as “Dudley’s Trail”).

Survivors include his sons, Jeremy Joseph Boone Saunders and Dudley F. Saunders Jr.; niece Robin Hollar (and her daughters, Shawna Elizabeth Merlin and Ashley Tillinghast); nephew, Jason Grant (and his daughter Madeline); daughter-in-law, Laboni Rahman Saunders; son-in-law, James Barry Gray; granddaughter, Rianissa Jo Rahman Saunders; and lifelong friends, Max Baumgardner, Bruce Shinbach, Grace Wooding and Cile Blau.

He was preceded in death by his former wife and closest friend, Bekki Jo Schneider.

In lieu of visitation, a celebration of his life will be held at the Jefferson Memorial Forest Welcome Center on Nov. 3.

Memorial gifts may be sent to Wilderness Louisville at P.O. Box 456, Fairdale, KY 40118 or made online at WildernessLouisville.org/Donate.