Four scholarships that honor and reflect

Phyllis Kissick created scholarships to recognize the life of her late husband, Colonel Luther Cleveland Kissick, Jr. 

On one of her nephew’s weekly visits, Phyllis Kissick proposed the idea of creating four scholarships at K-State to recognize her late husband, Colonel Luther Cleveland Kissick, Jr. Her nephew, Calvin Kissick, contacted the KSU Foundation without hesitation and helped her create scholarships for ROTC, aviation, agriculture education and the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.

“The scholarships we decided to create are diverse but they reflect my uncle’s life,” Calvin Kissick said. “The theme through all of this was wanting to leave a legacy of what he grew up with and carry that on to future students.”

Luther Cleveland Kissick Jr. served in the United States Air Force for three decades. This included a tour in China during World War II; as the first United States Air Force airmen to be assigned to the defense intelligence agency in D.C.; service in Tokyo with the United Nations; selection to head the United States Air Force Liaison team with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense; and an assignment to South Vietnam in 1966 to be chief of targeting, to name a few of his many military endeavors. 

As Phyllis was deciding on departments in which to create scholarships, the ROTC and aviation programs were important reflections of Luther’s years of service in the United States Air Force, but also a reflection of how he and Phyllis met.

“When my uncle was attending an intelligence school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, prior to World War II, his friend came into town to go on a double date with a woman who is now my aunt, and her sister,” Calvin said. “My aunt was attending Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, but prior to that she was in an aviation identification spotting school, and even taught aviation identification. They had that common interest, and from there, that is how their relationship blossomed.”

The Kissick’s spent most of their lives dedicated to the military, but Luther grew up on a farm and always kept a good exchange of information and connections with the first college he attended, K-State. Between discussing problems they might have on the farm, to a love of watching the marching band perform at football games, the importance of giving back to a place where their rooted values originated were a given in Phyllis’ eyes. So scholarships in agriculture education and the marching band were added to the scholarships reflecting Luther’s life. 

“What I believe really carried my uncle forward was not necessarily education or the military or any of those things; it’s the values he learned growing up around K-State — of conservatism and hard work,” Calvin said. “Those values carried him through anything with which he had success. So it’s now our time to give back and I’m glad I could help my aunt do this. It means a lot to our family.”

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