Loving Memory of Gary Lynn Kilgore
Gary Lynn Kilgore, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend, passed away peacefully on June 20, 2023, in Wichita. He was 81 years old. Gary touched the lives of all who knew him with his kindness, warmth, and unwavering spirit. His departure leaves an indescribable void, but his legacy of teaching others and cherished memories will forever remain in our hearts.
Born on September 14, 1941, in Dodge City, KS, Gary was the son of Theron C. & Anna Opal (Cope) Kilgore. Gary was an only child and lived on a farm north of Mullinville, KS. Gary was a quiet western Kansas farm kid whose parents encouraged him to participate in every public speaking event possible. Gary was a 4-H and FFA member, and he came to excel at speaking. He graduated from Mullinville High School in 1959. From an early age, it was clear that he possessed a zest for life and an incredible passion for learning and for the people and activities that brought him joy. Gary won the State Wheat Production Award, the State Grain Production Award, and both State and National 4-H Agricultural Achievement awards, as well as an FFA State Farmer Degree. Gary earned money raising hogs and chickens and he even drove the school bus at the age of 16. The National Agricultural Achievement Award carried a $400 scholarship - at a time when K-State tuition was $104 per semester. Gary became a KSU Wildcat in Agronomy- scared to death! During his time at KSU, he was a Crop Judging team member, placing 5th Nationally, a Soils Judging team member, and participated in the KSU Agronomy Student Speech Contest, where he was a national champion.
Throughout his journey, Gary's dedication, and commitment to those he loved never wavered. Gary was a devoted family man. He met the love of his life, Lorraine K. (Jones) during graduate school in Manhattan, KS, and landed a job at the Southeast Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station in Mound Valley, KS as a researcher. They embarked on a beautiful journey together. Their marriage of 57 years was a testament to their unwavering bond and shared values. Married on April 18, 1965, together they created a nurturing and loving home for their children and instilled in them the importance of family, respect, and kindness. Gary and Lorraine believed deeply in "every child needing a place to call home.” They fostered 26 mostly long-term placement children in their home over 10 years, even adopting to enlarge their family.
Professionally, Gary was a highly accomplished Agronomist at Kansas State University for more than 40 years. He dedicated his talents and skills to his work with unwavering diligence and a remarkable work ethic. His colleagues held him in high regard for his expertise and professionalism, and he made lasting contributions to his field throughout his career. He loved research and taught his learnings at field days and winter schools. Gary taught at more than 150 meetings and tended 40+ research plots a year- not to mention the countless questions that pop up at ball games, farm sales, church or wherever he happens to be. He loved to advise and help anyone needing answers. Gary cares about county agents and farmers. He'd rather spend his time walking crop rows with farmers than dining with royalty, any day.
Outside of his professional endeavors, Gary pursued numerous hobbies and passions. Gary was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church. He believed all people should be accepted and loved. Gary was an avid gardener. He took great delight in tending to his flowerbeds and cultivating beautiful landscapes for butterflies and birds. He believed that they mirrored the beauty he saw in the world. He also had a profound love for the great outdoors, finding peace in nature. He could often be found fishing down at his lake, embarking on numerous drives around the area to see how fields looked, or volunteering with Master Gardeners and community gardening activities. Gary loved KSU football, and his happiest moments were when he was attending KSU bowl games. He had a specific spot at the North KSU Agronomy farm where he parked and tailgated at home games. He loved grilling and sharing with family and friends that stopped by.
Gary will be remembered for his humble and compassionate nature, and the genuine interest he showed in others. He had a way of making everyone feel valued and important, and his kind words and gentle guidance touched countless lives. Gary's love for life was infectious, and he encouraged those around him to embrace every moment and find joy in the simplest of things.
He is survived by his daughter Lora (Kilgore) Norquest (Jason) of Thorntown, IN, and their children Charla Norquest of Brooklyn, NY, Jacob Norquest (Cassie) of Cedar Rapids, IA (4 children), and Audrey Norquest of Columbia, MO. His son, David Kilgore (Rebecca) of Chanute, KS, and their children, Dawson and Clara. Their daughter, Rosene's, children Ryan McCracken (Jaisa) of Arkansas City, KS (2 children) and Meagan Weible (Jeremy) (2 children) of Arkansas City, KS. Gary joined his wifey, Lorraine, his parents, an infant daughter Charla Dawn, an adult daughter Rosene Green, and a grandson Conor Gary in heaven. Memorials can be left in honor of Gary as the family will set up an Agronomy scholarship at Kansas State University.
Gary's memory will forever be cherished by his extended family, friends, and all those fortunate enough to have known him. Wear your purple proudly and please stay humble and kind.
As we bid farewell to Gary, let us take comfort in knowing that he has left an indelible mark on our lives. May we honor his memory by embracing the qualities he embodied: love, kindness, and an unwavering zest for knowledge. Though he may no longer be physically present, his spirit will continue to guide and inspire us as we navigate the journey ahead. If you knew him, you mattered to him.
Family visitation will be July 6, 5:30-7:30 pm at Wickham Family Funeral Home, at 500 N Forest Ave Chanute, KS. A celebration of life memorial services will be Friday, July 7, at 10:00 am at Otterbein Community Church, 631 W 7th St. Chanute, KS, and internment that evening at Hillcrest Cemetery as a graveside service in Mullinville, KS July 7 at 6:30 pm.
Rest in peace, dear Dad. Your legacy will forever live on, and your memory will be a blessing to us all.