It is with a broken heart that we say goodbye to sweet Dusty Dankert. He was a perfect dish: sweet and salty with a glance of bitter, plenty of herbs, and a beautiful crust that he attended to diligently and with passion. He was a satisfying meal that left a lingering impression your mind would come back to and reminisce about with your friends long after it was over.
He was born a farmer’s son and ventured out early, looking for a bigger world he could belong to without judgment. He was a musician, a rodeo cowboy, a lineman’s assistant, a bouncer, and the best dang waiter in Lincoln, Nebraska, before finding his home in the world of plants and flowers as a wholesale florist in Dallas.
Over the years, he amassed an impressive number of admirers. We all appreciated his warmth, his wit, those sparkling eyes always waiting for a reaction, and the many stories he told punctuated by his joyful cackle. He was wise, knowledgeable, humble, and courageous. He was quick to launch into a tirade against the many injustices in our world, he was in Facebook jail a lot (!), but was somehow able to find space for, and then friendship with, those whose narrow perspectives fundamentally disregarded his humanity. We loved him so much for that.
The essence of Dusty, though, was a party. He was walking fun. He traveled widely with his trusty sidekick, Miss Consin, a rubber chicken, and just being around him made you want to sing and dance. He threw fantastical events in his retro-cool apartment in Dallas, with a life-size RuPaul cutout overseeing lasers pointing at a giant disco ball hanging from his ceiling set the scene. His Christmas pajama parties are still famous among his loved ones.
A few years ago, he moved to a small mesa in the middle-of-nowhere Texas where he built a bespoke and stunning home overlooking several counties. He quickly became a beloved fixture up there, joining local natives on fun and ridiculous adventures that bonded them like war buddies as they recovered from their inevitable injuries. They provided him the close extended family he needed as he adjusted to the isolation of his new abode. He also occasionally caught the grass surrounding his house on fire which, turns out, is a great way to meet neighbors from miles around.
His life on the Mesa was not without challenges but the sunsets were spectacular, the home he created, peaceful, and the life he built, fulfilling. A year ago, he found a soulmate by the side of the road. A gorgeous but unkempt Aussiedoodle with movie-star eyelashes, she’d been abandoned and in need of an angel. He needed one, too, as it turned out. He named her Shadow because she became so quickly and lovingly attached to him. She was with him when he passed peacefully this week, never leaving his side.
Dusty is survived by his soulmate, Shadow; parents, Earl Dankert and Donna Lee Dankert, deceased; his adoring sister, CJ Seaman; numerous cousins and thousands of “chosen family,” the Big Fish, Montgomeries, and Friends on the Mesa, to name just a few. He collected so much love and so many friends throughout his life; too many to list but you know who you are. We’ll be celebrating his life in the spring when some of his closest family members will be able to join us. We will post details as they become available.
Dusty generously supported the SAGE organization, which provides advocacy and services for LGTBQ+ elders. Please consider a donation in his honor at sageusa.org.
We love you, Dusty. Rest in peace, friend, knowing you brought joy and happiness into a world that could very easily have beaten you down. You’re an inspiration and a light that will never extinguish in our hearts.