Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Gabe's History

gabe.jpg The High Plains of Northwest Kansas were the center of my world during childhood. The skies brought hardship from recurring droughts, hailstorms and/or blizzards, making production of wheat and management of a cow and calf herd akin to a gambling addiction for my parents.

Later, after I “soloed” for operating a farm tractor (no cab, heater, air conditioning or radio), the skies also brought increasing numbers of Air Force planes overhead. I was fascinated by the high flying push-prop B-36s. Soon, sleek jets also began to appear at high altitude.

Still later, many of the jets were also flying low. It was not unusual to see helmeted heads of crew members in cockpits of B-47s and B-52s. I was not aware that the High Plains served as the Cold War SAC training range for possible missions over the Russian Steppe.

The SAC low level training missions piqued my interest in becoming an Air Force pilot. Announcement by Kansas' Favorite Son, President Dwight Eisenhower, that an academy for future Air Force officers was going to be built near Colorado Springs, intensified that interest.

Assignments to the 464 TAW at Pope AFB, NC, and HQ 13AF at Clark AB, RPI., were challenging and also fulfilling. Although I was frustrated by medical disqualification from future aircrew duty while in pilot training, I intended to continue wearing the “blue suit” until retirement.

However, I did not expect to encounter the environment created by the colonel who was director of the OCAMA division to which I was assigned at Tinker AFB, OK. In October, 1973, I determined that I could no longer tolerate being part of that environment. I resigned my commission.

January, 1974, was the beginning of a career in public administration with the State of Kansas, which included:

Assistant for Policy Planning and Analysis, Office of the Secretary, Kansas Dept. of Human Resources, 1974-1979 Commissioner, Kansas Rehabilitation Services, 1979-1984

Leave of Absence from State service to serve as Director, Menninger Rehabilitation and Research Training Center on Worker Disability, 1984-1988

Commissioner, Kansas Rehabilitation Services, 1988-1993

Hazardous Materials Response Coordinator and State Liaison to Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station, Kansas Division of Emergency Management, 1993-1999.

Director of the Kansas Office of Vital Statistics and Assistant State Registrar, 1999-2008.

Observation From Public Administration career:

Only rational element of the political process is its irrationality.


Bachelor of Science, United States Air Force Academy, 1964

Master of Public Administration, University of Oklahoma, 1975


Air Force Commendation Medal, duty with the 464 TAW

Air Force Commendation Medal, duty with HQ 13 AF

Community Service

Member, Auburn, Kansas, City Council, 1976-1979

Leadership Kansas, 1979

Volunteer Severe Storm Spotter, National Weather Service Forecast Office, Topeka, Kansas, 1980, continuing May 1983, observed and reported the formation, touchdown and track of a tornado as it struck the far southern edge of Topeka

Cited as Topeka/Shawnee County 1983 Citizen of the Year


Wife, Nancy Wallace, married in 1969 Career elementary educator Bachelor of Arts, University of Dayton Father of her first son, Danny, was UH-1 pilot, KIA 1967, South Viet Nam.

Son, Danny, Career Army Officer Bachelor of Science, Bethany College, Master of Political Science, Kansas State University Wife, Yong Hui, Bachelor of Science, Kansas State University

Son, Greg, Hospital Emergency Services Director Doctor of Medicine, University of Kansas Wife, Amy, Interior design consultant

Son, Chris and wife, Catherine, Publishers of two local newspapers Chris, Bachelor of Accounting, Master of Finance, Kansas State University Catherine, Bachelor of Communication, Kansas State University.

Daughter, Caryn, Speech Language Pathologist Bachelor of Education, Master of Speech Pathology, Kansas State University Husband, Jerod, Senior AT&T Technician

Grandchildren, 13 Great Grandchildren, 2
[ Air Force Assignments and Stories ]
[ Transformation of a State Agency ]
[ Cold War Exercise Deja Vu ]
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