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Artist, Musician Donald Kucera Dies

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Donald Kucera, a Laguna Beach artist and musician known for his years of work with the annual Sawdust Festival, has died. He was 62 and succumbed to a heart attack on Wednesday.

A memorial service will be held today at 5:30 p.m. at the Laguna Beach United Methodist Church.

Kucera was part of a group of local artists who for the last 16 years worked to expand the Sawdust Festival, a popular Laguna Beach arts and crafts fair. Every summer, Kucera and his wife ran a booth selling his handmade wooden puzzles and rocking toys shaped like jungle animals and dinosaurs.

He also played the role of Simon Peter in performances of “The Last Supper” for 18 years at Laguna Beach’s Pageant of the Masters, a show that re-creates great works of art using live models.

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A backstage dedication at the pageant reads: “Thank you, Don, for your contagious enthusiasm, remarkable wit and challenging puzzles that have kept us entertained through the many years.”

Born into a musical family in Ohio, Kucera learned to play the flute and then mastered the E-flat alto horn, earning him a place in the prestigious Ohio State Marching Band, according to his wife, Lee.

Much of his time he spent with nature. In the early morning, his wife said, he would hike several miles through Laguna Canyon while his family was still asleep.

“He had three loves in life: family, music and the outdoors,” Lee Kucera said. “He packed in all three of them in his life as anyone possibly could.”

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Kucera is survived by seven children and seven grandchildren.

A memorial fund has been established for Kucera at the Laguna Canyon Foundation. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 4895, Laguna Beach, CA 92652.


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