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John "Jack" See's gifts to Wichita State sought to lift up students, recognize faculty

John See

As he approached his 90s, John “Jack” See was living the good life. Financially secure after a long career with Boeing, he enjoyed socializing with friends and neighbors and was active in his church.

But he wanted to do more. He sought out his friend, James Rhatigan, former dean of students at Wichita State University who was then working as a consultant for the WSU Foundation. Mr. See told Rhatigan he wanted to donate $100,000 to Wichita State to help students cope with uninsured medical emergencies.

“I was both stunned and grateful,” said Rhatigan. “Stunned because Mr. See wasn’t an alumnus of Wichita State and grateful because I knew from many years of experience how helpful a fund like this could be.”

“Of all the important gifts Mr. See has made to Wichita State, that was the one that touched me the most,” Rhatigan added.

Mr. See, who also donated $200,000 to endow an engineering scholarship and $1 million to establish the John A. See Innovation Award, died on May 12 in his home. He was 96.

He created the Innovation Award in 2014 to recognize faculty members and students who conduct research that has the potential to improve the lives of others. It was the first research award to be endowed at Wichita State. Since 2014, awards ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 have been given to six faculty members and will continue in the coming years.

An engineer at Boeing until his retirement in 1984, Mr. See also endowed the John A. See Engineering Scholarship, which provides scholarships each year to nine WSU juniors and seniors.

Though Mr. See wasn’t a graduate of Wichita State, he respected the quality of education the university provides, Rhatigan said. “He was a humble person who didn’t like to draw attention to himself, but also a thoughtful and caring man,” Rhatigan said.

Mr. See was born in 1919 in Ely, Nevada. He was married for 59 years to Jane See, who preceded him in death. He is survived by a daughter and son-in-law, Jary and Dana Shay of Osage Beach, Missouri, and a grandson, Case Gilbreath, of Sarasota, Florida. Mr. See’s son, John A. See Jr., preceded him in death.