Dennis Kent Kuhlman died of COVID-19 complications December 7, 2020, surrounded by his loving wife and three children. He was born in Lakin, KS, November 20, 1948 to Vera A (Brock) and Erwin R Kuhlman. The wide-open spaces and family farm life left a permanent impression on his character. He was an active 4-H member, basketball player, amateur car racer, and farmer. Initially resistant, his mother pushed him to pursue an education, which started a lifelong commitment to learning and teaching. He began at Garden City Junior College, moved on to Kansas State University where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural Engineering, earning his PhD in the same subject from Oklahoma State University.
It was at K-State where he met the love of his life, Carol Ann (Singer). First dates don’t always take, and it took a couple of tries before the couple saw the spark in each other’s eyes. She of Kansas City, he of western Kansas, the pair soon began a 48-year adventure when they married on July 8, 1972. Dennis’s Navy enlistment took them on a three-year ride across Rhode Island and Florida before they returned to Manhattan to continue his education. Dennis was proud to say he was an engineer, and through that lens he approached his life and career. He was an Extension Agricultural Engineer at Kansas State University from 1977-1997, where he focused on practical research and education for safe and effective pesticide application. He had many important friendships through K-State and was very involved in campus leadership activities. Dennis and Carol had three children while in Manhattan: Brock, Les, and Breanna. He was a loving father and active participant in their lives, from raising 4-H animals, coaching basketball, softball, and soccer, to teaching them how to burn pasture and build fences. He was a patient and loving teacher. Not every project went according to plan and we cherish the stories of unexpected wind, pasture fires gone wrong, and patience tested.
Dennis’s career took them to Salina for the next chapter when he became Dean and CEO of K-State at Salina, now known as Kansas State Polytechnic. It was here Dennis left a lasting mark on our community. He led the challenge of transforming Kansas State at Salina, a former technical college, into a university-caliber institution. He relished the challenges, successes, failures, and learnings. Through it all he cherished personal relationships. The people he worked with, mentored, and helped, inspired him. He held the students he impacted and the opportunities that he created as his real reward. Salina became home for Carol and Breanna. Raising cattle and ducks became new projects and traveling softball grew into a family affair. Weekends at tournaments around the state and coaching many teams over the years gave Dennis opportunities to impact young people.
After retirement in 2012, Dennis and Carol enjoyed morning coffee, deck time, their three grandchildren, friends, family, K-State sports, managing the farm out west, and traveling. Their travel adventures took them around the world with the help of their internationally-living son. Japan, Thailand, Switzerland, England, a cruise down the Rhine, Antarctica, Portugal and South Africa were beautiful memories — along with many family vacations to the mountains and beaches closer to home. It was a life well lived. It was a life well loved. It was a life cut short.
Dennis is survived by a sister Pamella Hahn (Jerry), nephew Duane, wife Carol of Salina, sons Brock (Patrick) of Cape Town, South Africa, Les (Kendra) of Manhattan, daughter Breanna (Sara) of Roxbury, and grandchildren Keira, Quinn, and Colter. We will always love you Dennis.
For service information visit www.ryanmortuary.com/obituaries.html