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K-State Today

April 1, 2014

Husband creates scholarship to honor his wife, their life together

Submitted by Marisa Larson

Every great love story has a unique beginning. For Dale Denning and Patricia McRae Denning, their story began in freshman chemistry class in Willard Hall at K-State.

"Patricia was sitting next to a 6-foot-4, 240-pound football player so I didn't really think I should ask her out," Denning said. "She actually asked me out to a party the fall of our sophomore year, and we dated for about a year."

After going their separate ways their junior year, the two spent their last semester at K-State together and went on to medical school together. They graduated from medical school and got married in 1982. Unfortunately, their love story came to a tragic end when Patricia Denning died in 2012.

The Dennings had discussed establishing a scholarship some day, and when Patricia Denning died, her husband saw the scholarship as a way to honor her memory. The Dale P. and Patricia McRae Denning Premedicine Scholarship will be awarded to two students, one male and one female. One recipient must have financial need.

Dale Denning grew up in Russell, one of seven children. Although his parents had not gone to college, they insisted their children go.

"From the time I was in fourth grade mowing lawns, I've been saving money to go to college," he said.

Patricia Denning grew up in Topeka, the third of four children. While she had very good grades and qualified for merit-based scholarships, her father didn't want her to take scholarship money away from others who needed it more.

"I, on the other hand, needed all the help I could get," Dale Denning said. "I wouldn't be where I am or have had the opportunities I did if other people hadn't taken a chance on me; put money out there for students like me. I am very grateful to have the opportunities I had."

Dale Denning wants the scholarships to mirror what he and his wife experienced at college. One scholarship is based on merit, which reflects Patricia Denning's experience. The other is based on merit and financial need, which represents Dale Denning's college experience.

Patricia Denning left behind a legacy of caring for others, through her work as a physician and through community service. Now her husband has ensured their love for each other, K-State and helping others continues through these endowed scholarships.