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Levine, David Lee

David Lee Levine, of Kansas City, Missouri, died peacefully on Dec. 28, 2017. He was 82.

David was born Jan. 11, 1935, at St. Mary’s hospital, the middle child of William and Minnie (Osadchy) Levine. He grew up on Benton Boulevard on Kansas City’s east side before moving to the Waldo area, where he lived throughout his life. 

David attended Paseo High School, and at the time played basketball in the Aleph Zadik Aleph youth group. He jumped center for his team. He earned a white belt in judo, and was generally involved in athletics. Throughout his life, he was an avid sports fan. He listened to the Kansas City Royals games on the radio with religious regularity despite the team’s often lackluster performance. 

From a young age, movies and cinema enthralled David — particularly westerns. He became a quick and dedicated fan of Gene Autry, the “singing cowboy” of movies and radio, whom he had the opportunity to meet and shake hands with during Autry’s appearance at the Fox Tower Theater. David’s fandom of Gene Autry would not abate; he would often sing along to his extensive collection of Autry’s records and recounted Autry’s movies late into his life. 

David grew to be a fan of the movies generally. His desk at home was often strewn with video tapes packed with golden era Hollywood classics and thick, moderately outdated film encyclopedias, from which he would compile quizzes about movies from the era. Indeed, his knowledge of film was encyclopedic. There were few golden era movie questions that could stump him; he could name every Best Picture winner, every Best Actor and Actress. 

After high school he worked odd jobs until starting his company, the David Levine Drive-Away Service, which he owned and operated for 25 years transporting cars and trucks to dealerships across the Midwest. He retired in 2005. 

But David was, above all else, a storyteller. Here are some of his stories:

Sure, he knew judo. He didn’t want to use it, but he would if he had to! He’s had to rough a couple of guys up. He’s not going to let anyone put their hands on him. One time, an older guy was messing with his younger brother, so he had to step in. He was a bigger guy, had apples on his arms, but David said: Hey buddy, you’re not going put your hands on a kid! And that was that. Sometimes people would say he held a black belt in judo, but no, he was just a white belt. 

He didn’t know why bicycles had so many gears nowadays. Back in his day, he’d pump his bicycle up and down hills all over town, delivering Guy’s potato chips. That’s how he got those muscles here, you see those? Man, he could ride all over. 

He could tell you everything you wanted to know about the movies. You know who won the first Academy Award for Best Picture? Do you? It was “Wings.” Some people thought it was “Seventh Heaven,” but no, it was “Wings.” He’s still working on his quiz book, you know. He’s got 50 quizzes! The man from the Kansas City Star once said he was interested in his quizzes, so we’ll see what happens.

Did you know that his grandfather, Papa Louie, came to America with seven dollars in his pocket? He made a good life for himself, Papa Louie. Opened a kosher butcher, one of the first in Kansas City. That’s how you do it. Boy, he was smart! Hard worker. That’s how you get ahead. 

Those were a few of the stories. There were plenty more. But they all transmitted a singular truth about who David was, through and through: hopeful, jovial, kind, funny. He never met a stranger. He didn’t always know exactly when to be quiet. Now, of course, we all wish we could hear his voice again. 

He is survived by his sister, Adelle Matzdorff, and his brother, Michael. He will be missed by his nieces, Lisa Levine and Carolyn Linck; his great-nephew, Ron Knox (and his wife, Natalie Patrick-Knox); and his great-great-nephew, Isaac Knox, all of whom he doted on and loved dearly. And the many friends and acquaintances he regaled with stories over the years. 

Funeral services were held Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, at The Louis Memorial Chapel; burial followed at Sheffield Cemetery.

Online condolences may be left for the family at www.louismemorialchapel.com.

Arrangements by The Louis Memorial Chapel, 816-361-5211.