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Department: Foundation

Gift from 'Renaissance man' benefits art department

October 30, 2014

During his lifetime, David W. Kasitz operated machinery that produced hay and forage equipment for a well-known Kansas manufacturer. He also appreciated classic motorcycles bearing the Moto Guzzi and Triumph nameplates, dabbled in piano, violin and guitar, and supported services for disadvantaged children.

His wide-ranging interests also included Emporia State University’s Department of Art, which is now receiving a six-figure gift from his estate.

“He was very much a Renaissance man,” said his cousin, John Peters of Walton, Kansas.  Kasitz, of Newton, Kansas, died in January 2014. His passion for motorcycles and the open road led him to serve as the state president for the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club for several years.

The bulk of his estate will endow the David W. Kasitz Donor-Advised Fund to support Emporia State’s engraving arts, printmaking and painting programs and provide scholarships for art students.

“This kind of support shows the extensive impact of the arts and arts education on our lives,” said Patrick Martin, interim chair of Emporia State’s art department.

After earning a bachelor of science in education degree in industrial education from Emporia State in 1975, Kasitz worked as a machinist at Cessna Aircraft Co., in Wichita before joining AGCO in Hesston, which manufactures hay-handling equipment bearing the Hesston name.

“David loved his time at Emporia State, and he influenced me to go to college there, too,” said Peters, who graduated with a BSE in psychology two years after Kasitz.

Describing him as private and individualistic, Peters said his late cousin enthusiastically gathered knowledge on investment practices. Kasitz consulted with John Griffin, an estate planner who works at no charge with friends of the Emporia State University Foundation, for advice in setting up his gifts.

“Whatever David did, he did it wholeheartedly, which explains why he was able to accumulate the wealth he did on what might be considered a blue-collar salary,” said Peters.

“Having just celebrated Glendo Corporation’s equipment gift for our engraving arts program, the support that David Kasitz’s estate gift will provide the art department is especially gratifying,” said Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, Emporia State’s president.

In addition to his gift to Emporia State, a portion of Kasitz’s estate will benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Kansas, and Wichita Children’s Home.

Launched in February 2013, Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University is a five- to seven-year effort with a working goal of $45 million. In only a little over two years, it is already the most successful fund-raising initiative in University history, with financial commitments now exceeding $32 million.

The campaign supports student scholarships, academic departments and initiatives that advance Emporia State’s mission to recruit students, teach and retain them, encourage them to graduate with lower levels of student debt, and ultimately put them on a path to a solid career.

For more information about opportunities to give to the Now & Forever campaign, visit, or contact DenaSue Potestio, Foundation president/CEO, at 620-341-5440.

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