Donald Dean Eustice, son of Thomas Eustice and Ethel Haley was born September 24, 1928 at Waterville, LeSueur County, Minnesota. He married Esther, daughter of Ray Daniel Clayton and Jessie Alma McGrath on November 12, 1948 at Sacred
Heart Church in Waseca.
Donald D. Eustice attended Janesville and Waseca Public Schools,and graduated from Waseca High School in 1946. He served in the United States Navy from 1946 to 1948.
He spent most of his adult life in law enforcement, serving on the Waseca Police Department one year before joining the
Sheriffs Department in 1953.
In 1966, Don Eustice was elected
sheriff and eventually was re-elected for two additional terms
in 1970 and 1974. In 1968 he was elected president of the
Minnesota Sheriff’s Boys Ranch where he served two terms. In
1970 he organized a sheriffs posse. Sometime later, he started
the snowmobile posse. In 1973, Don was elected president of the
Minnesota Sheriff’s Association. He served as President, of the Minnesota Sheriff's Association, President of the Waseca Rotary Club, President of the Waseca Blue Jays Boosters Association, Pack Master of the local Cub Scouts and Explorer Scout Leader.
On September 4 around 9:00 a.m.,
Sheriff Donald Eustice and Chief Deputy Mert Schwarz went to
serve papers at the Kenneth Jewison farm, eight miles north of
Waseca in Iosco Township. Normally one person served papers,
however because they were not busy, Schwarz rode with Eustice.
Schwarz had been to the farm several times earlier in the week,
but Jewison was not home. Eustice was in plain clothes and
unarmed and Schwarz was in uniform and armed. As they
approached the house, they saw Jewison, 64, standing behind the
screen door. They both acknowledged him saying “Hi Kenny.”
Jewison then came outside, aiming a 12-gauge double barreled
shotgun at them and fired from about 12 feet away, hitting
Eustice in the right side of his chest. Eustice went down and
never moved. Schwarz jumped backward, drew his revolver, as he
had no cover, and continued to move back in order to make
himself harder to hit. He ordered Jewison to put down the gun
but Jewison went into the house. He ordered him a second time
and Jewison threw out the gun and said , “I give up.” Schwarz
then took Jewison into custody and placed him in the squad and
radioed for help. Sheriff Eustice had succumbed to his
Jewison was indicted on first-degree murder by a grand jury four
days after the murder. He was however, found incompetent to
stand trial. He was to remain in a closed ward at St. Peter
State Hospital where he had been since November 19, 1976, and
his psychiatric evaluation was to be sealed.
Eustice was 47 years old. He served in the U.S. Navy from
1946—1948. He had been in law enforcement since 1952. He
started with the Waseca Police Department, then went onto the
sheriff’s office in 1953. In 1963, Donald was selected as the Waseca Jaycees Outstanding Young Man
of the Year by the Waseca Jaycees. He was a member of the Knight of Columbus, the Janesville Sportsmans Club , the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
Don started Teen Canteen and was
also was a member of the Waseca Fire Department.
One of his proudest accomplishments was the organization of Sheriffs Boys Ranch at Austin, Minnesota. He was a prime mover in this organization whose purpose is to provide boys and young men whose lives have lacked direction with guidance and
leadership skills Donald served as president of the ranch and a gymnasium is named in his honor.
Don was instrumental in starting
the Invitation Wrestling Tournament in Waseca in 1974.
Following his death, the name was changed to the Eustice
Memorial Wrestling Tournament.
Since Don’s death, the Eustice
Community Service Award is presented to an individual who has
served the community. This is presented by the Chamber of
Commerce to an individual who has been active in a number and
variety of areas, and has served as a leader and assumed
responsibility for that service. A scholarship, “Donald D.
Eustice Memorial Scholarship Fund” is given to a deserving
student/s in Waseca County who has been accepted to a college of
their choice to pursue a career in law enforcement.
The editorial in the Waseca
paper on September 7th, 1976 read as follows: “Don Eustice was
loved and respected by almost everyone he knew. Even many of
those whom he had to bring to justice knew him as a fair man.
Don was a leader of overwhelming dynamic force. In his numerous
civic activities, he was not only a member of an organization,
but more often than not was the primary driving force who either
got the organization off the ground or breathed new life into
it. In particular, he was a master at dealing with young
people. Many upstanding members of the community today have Don
to thank for keeping them or returning them to the straight and
narrow path. He felt every youngster, no matter what his
circumstances, deserved an even break to make it in this world.
Now he is gone, the victim of an apparently senseless act. One
strives to find some possible meaning in this tragic event. Don
spent his life protecting us not only from each other, but from
ourselves. He was a living example for everyone of us to
follow. In serving us, he made the ultimate sacrifice—he gave
his life. The bell tolls for all of us, asking that this man
who serves us shall not have died in vain. He was involved in
Mankind, and his death should serve as a cue to all of us to
live life as he did, to the fullest.”
survived by his wife, Esther, and nine children, Doug, Gary,
Becky, Scott, Brad, Todd, Peggy, Barry and Barbara. He was buried in St. Jarlaths Cemetery in rural Waseca County.
Curtis Felt attended the funeral of
Sheriff Eustice and commented to his parents that he was
overwhelmed by the outstanding support that police officers show
to honor the life and death of a fellow officer. Curtis was
killed in the line of duty less than two years later. The
support was once again evident.