Pictured above are several of Dustin Kuseske’s friends who got tattoos with the “DK” symbol in memory of their friend. Included in the picture are Brent O’Brien, Tyler Dutoi, Paige Taylor, Sarah McCuddy, Scott Trout, Jacob Miller, Joey Gajewski, Derrick Hiler,Matt Weaver, Tervon Williams and Stormie Davis. Not pictured are Keyra Salas and Joe Miller. Leader Photo/AMBROSIA NELDON
Pictured above are several of Dustin Kuseske’s friends who got tattoos with the “DK” symbol in memory of their friend. Included in the picture are Brent O’Brien, Tyler Dutoi, Paige Taylor, Sarah McCuddy, Scott Trout, Jacob Miller, Joey Gajewski, Derrick Hiler,Matt Weaver, Tervon Williams and Stormie Davis. Not pictured are Keyra Salas and Joe Miller.
Leader Photo/AMBROSIA NELDON

Archived Story

Friends pay tribute to Dowagiac accident victim with tattoos

Published 9:15pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Several members of the Dowagiac community  are paying tribute to a close friend and Dowagiac native after his unexpected death nearly two weeks ago.

Dustin Kuseske, 22, was returning home from dropping a friend off at her residence when he crashed into a utility pole on Topash Road in Dowagiac, less than a mile from his home. Fresh gravel had recently been laid on the road. Kuseske’s mother said she believes her son either fell asleep or hit a deer, and that alcohol and speed were not factors in the accident.

“It was the worst news I’ve ever gotten,” said Dustin’s mother, Amy Kuseske, recalling when she found out about her son’s death. “Three policemen and a minister show up at your door at six in the morning, and you know it’s terrible.”

Funeral services for Kuseske were held on Friday, Sept. 27, and Amy Kuseske said it had record-breaking attendance for the funeral home. Following the service, several of Kuseske’s friends went to pay tributes in their own special way.

“Dustin always wore DC Shoe Company clothing, like always,” said Scott Trout, one of Dustin’s best friends. “So we decided to get ‘DK’ tattoos, for Dustin Kuseske.”

A tattoo artist from Sister Lakes who prefers to be called simply “RT,” closed down his shop at 4 p.m. Friday following the funeral so he could tattoo all of Kuseske’s friends with the “DK” symbol.

“He just kept tattooing without a break until 5 the next morning,” said Tyler Dutoi, another good friend of Kuseske’s.

“They all wanted to do it so much,” said RT. “With all that energy, it was easy to stay awake. We had 30 to 40 people there, all for one purpose. How could I say no?”

At a gathering Tuesday evening, Kuseske’s friends and family recalled memories dating back to as far as fifth grade Halloween parties.

“Every day was the best day with him, whether we got along or were fighting,” said Paige Taylor, who had been dating Kuseske for three and a half years. “I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be in my life. He helped  me with so many things.”

Other friends described Kuseske as “heavenly” and “spiritual,” explaining how he grew more religious after he was baptized with his mother, father and girlfriend last year.

“This is a huge loss for us, but God couldn’t have called a better person to heaven,” said Stormie Davis, a good friend of Kuseske’s.

Kuseske graduated from Dowagiac Union High School in 2010 and was unemployed at the time of his death. His friends say he enjoyed using his hands to fish, hunt and work on cars.

“Dustin’s the kind of guy that would have been satisfied living the small town dream. A small house with a garage and tools, a good wife and a family, and he would’ve been happy,” said Dutoi.

Of all of Kuseske’s hobbies, his friends seemed to agree that his favorite was spending time with the people he loved. They said he was very protective of his friends, and especially his younger sister, McKenzie, who is expecting Dustin’s first nephew this December.

“We thought the tattoo was a good way to show off how many people (Dustin) brought together, and how much we still love him,” said Trout.

“This way, we know he’ll be with us forever,” said Brent O’Brien, who said Kuseske was his best friend.

Kuseske’s friends and family say that the healing process will take a long time, but gathering to talk about Dustin has helped tremendously.

Dutoi said that Kuseske’s house had always been a meeting spot for everyone, and that he’d always been the friend who brought everyone together, even in his death.

“I knew he had a big heart, but I didn’t ever realize how big it really was,” said Gary Kuseske, Dustin’s father. “Until now, that is.”

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