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Governor, K-State President Confer Degree Upon Kansas Farmer Who Sent N95 Mask to New York

Governor Laura Kelly and K-State President Richard Myers conferred a degree upon retired Kansas farmer Dennis Ruhnke, of Troy, who sent an N95 mask to New York's governor.  Governor Kelly said Tuesday that Ruhnke shows the best in humanity and encapsulates what it means to be a Kansan. (Photo from governor's office.)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Governor Laura Kelly joined Kansas State University President Richard Myers today (TUE) to confer a bachelor’s degree upon Dennis Ruhnke, a retired farmer from Troy, in northeast Kansas. Ruhnke recently garnered national attention when he sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in which he enclosed an N-95 mask to give to a nurse or doctor in New York.  

Ruhnke wrote to Governor Cuomo: “I am a retired farmer hunkered down in Northeast Kansas with my wife who has but one lung and occasional problems with her remaining lung. She also has diabetes. We are in our 70s now and frankly, I am afraid for her. Enclosed find a solitary N-95 mask left over from my farming days. It has never been used. If you could, would you please give this mask to a nurse or doctor in your city. I have kept four masks for my immediate family. Please keep on doing what you do so well, which is to lead.”

According to a news release from her office, Governor Kelly said, "Dennis’ donation, at the height of our country’s protective gear shortage, showed us the best in humanity when we needed it the most. I would like to thank Dennis for the example he’s set on how to serve – and how to be thoughtful and generous in an extraordinary way.”

In 1971, Ruhnke was studying agriculture at Kansas State University when his father passed away. At that time, he was two credits away from earning his degree, but chose to leave school to take care of his mother and the family farm.

“After speaking with President Myers, we both agreed that Dennis perfectly encapsulates K-State’s democratic mandate to be of service to people,” Governor Kelly said. “Which is why I am very honored that I was able to help present Dennis with his well-deserved bachelor’s degree in agriculture."

"Along with his fantastic demonstration of kindness and generosity, Mr. Ruhnke’s academic work at K-State in his chosen field of agriculture qualifies him to receive his degree,” President Richard Myers said. "Kansas State University is proud to officially recognize Mr. Ruhnke as an alumnus and valued member of the Wildcat family."

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