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Eric Melvin Priest

May 29, 1948 ~ July 28, 2021 (age 73)


Eric Melvin Priest, 73, of Emporia, died July 28, 2021. He was born May 29, 1948, in Spearville, Kansas.   He was the third of eight children born to Melvin Priest and Maryan Havas Priest.  He married Glenda Barrett on June 14, 1970, in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.

Eric attended Emporia State University (then Kansas State Teachers College), earning both bachelor's and master's degrees.  He held several offices in Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and served as Student Body president.  Eric earned his Ph. D. from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and worked for 27 years as a college administrator.

He served in the National Guard and Army Reserve. Eric was an avid hobbyist, outdoorsman, and artist.  He ran in 5K races in the over-50 age group in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado.  He was known as a good dancer, and he loved rock music, which could sometimes be heard playing from his convertible Mercedes.  He was a skilled pool player and competed in a local 8-ball league.  For his entire life he loved to fish—he even took Glenda fishing in Minnesota for their honeymoon!  He spent many years on the banks of—and wading in—the Cottonwood River.  He landed some incredible catfish, and he taught many people to fish.  He was an excellent carpenter, building beautiful furniture and once even a catamaran.  He hunted deer with long bows that he hand-crafted from Osage Orange trees, and he made drums using deer hides that he had harvested and tanned himself.  His carpentry pieces, bows, drums, and art are displayed now in his home and in the homes of loved ones.

Most of all, Eric was committed to his family and friends.  He was a loving and supportive father and grandfather, generously sharing his time and knowledge.  He also readily accepted new friends and made them feel like family.  Eric genuinely cared about people. 

Eric will be remembered by his friends and family for his love of nature, his work ethic, his commitment to social justice, and his dedication and love for his family.  

He is survived by his wife, Glenda, of Emporia; son, Nathan, of Stillwater, Oklahoma, daughters, Molly Priest (Brian Henderson) of Sayre, Oklahoma,  and Sarah (Justin) Bays of Toledo, Kansas; mother, Maryan Brock of Kinsley; two sisters, Linda (Joe) Frazier of Green Valley, Arizona, and Lorilee Maxwell of Kinsley; four brothers, Marty Priest of Kinsley, Mel (Denise) Priest of Kinsley, Tim (Tammy) Priest of Green Valley, Arizona, and Gale Priest of  Arthur, Nebraska; two stepbrothers Michael (Laura) Brock of  Platte City, Missouri, and John Brock of Leavenworth ; six grandchildren, Bradly Henderson of  Oklahoma City, Hazel and Eleanor Priest of Stillwater, Oklahoma, Dylan Priest, of Sayre, Oklahoma, and Selma and Salem Bays of Toledo, Kansas; 19 nieces and nephews; 18 great nieces and nephews; and two great-great nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, Melvin Priest, and a brother, Kenneth Priest.

A private family Celebration of Life will be held in Kinsley at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: Kansas Free-for-Arts (local non-profit advocating for wellness and arts culture) or

            Outside for a Better Inside (local youth hunting and fishing) c/o Brown Bennett Alexander Funeral Home, PO Box 220, Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845.

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