• Go Beavers!!!

DeWeese finds love and success at Pratt Community College

11 July 2018

“This community college is dear to my heart. If it hadn’t been for Pratt Community College, I would never be where I am at today. If it hadn’t been for a couple of my favorite teachers, I wouldn’t be where I am at today.”

Dwane DeWeese graduated from Cunningham High School in the spring of 1959. The following fall, he along with five other friends, carpooled from Cunningham to Pratt to enroll at what was known as Pratt Junior College at the time.

“All six of us enrolled,” said DeWeese. “Three of the gentlemen I road with enrolled in engineering. One girl enrolled in secretarial studies. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I don’t think the other guy knew what he wanted to do, so we enrolled in Liberal Arts.”

At the time, tuition was $35 per semester. DeWeese enrolled in 15 credit hours and discovered college was more challenging than he thought.

“I didn’t do well grade wise,” said DeWeese. “I didn’t apply myself like I should have.”

That following summer, DeWeese joined a wheat harvesting crew. The crew started out in Burkburnett, TX and Wichita Falls, TX. Using two Massey-Harris combines, the crew would cut wheat in Burkburnett and Wichita Falls, then they traveled to Fredrick, Lawton, and Burlington, OK. Eventually they ended up in Cunningham, KS where the owner of the company farmed. After wheat was cut there, they loaded the combines up and traveled to Tribune, KS, Julesburg, CO, and ended the summer in Kimball, KS.

“I didn’t enjoy sitting in a combine all summer,” said DeWeese. “There was nobody to talk to. We were sitting out in the sun all day. I ended up with dust pneumonia. I got home and decided that maybe cutting wheat wasn’t my forte.”

DeWeese decided to enroll at Pratt Junior College again for the following year, but this time, with much more success.

“I made the honor roll my first semester back,” said DeWeese. “My mother thought she ought to come to college because she thought I bought my grades since I made the honor roll!”

During his time at PCC, DeWeese met two instructors who made a great influence on his life. They, along with his previous high school shop teacher, Warren Fouse, inspired DeWeese and he credits them for his lifelong successes.

“When I got to the college, I was taught by Dan Manwarren and C.S. Woods,” said DeWeese. “Both of them were excellent instructors and role models.”

Woods taught electricity and geology while Manwarren taught industrial arts and mechanics, all of which DeWeese enjoyed.

“I suffered through English and Algebra and some of those other core classes so I could take shop classes,” said DeWeese.

In his second semester of his second year, DeWeese was introduced to yet another person who would eventually become his biggest inspiration of all.

“There was a gal that sat behind me who kept pushing my briefcase down the aisle in psychology,” said DeWeese. “Her name was Sue Crowl.”

DeWeese recalls the class having to come up with their own projects.

“The research that I did was over Pavlov’s dog salivating,” said DeWeese. “The gal behind me, which was Sue, took on a different project. Her project was me and it’s lasted 54 years!”

After graduating from PCC, DeWeese attended the Kansas State Teachers College, now known as Emporia State University. As soon as Crowl was finished with her classes at PCC a year later, she attended the school as well. The couple continued to date during their time there. DeWeese graduated from Emporia in 1963 while Crowl graduated in 1964.

“We kind of thought we would get married after I graduated in 1963,” said DeWeese. “But, I made a business decision. If we didn’t get married until 1964, her folks would pay for her last year of education instead of me!”
The couple married in August of 1964.

After graduating from Emporia, DeWeese worked on his student teaching at Campus High School in Wichita. A week after he started his student teaching, he was called into the principal’s office. The principal informed him they were hiring teachers for the next year and wanted him to sign a contract.

“I signed a contract for Campus High School and I was going to teach in the other five or six teachers’ planning periods,” said DeWeese. “I was trained in welding, woodshop, and machine shop, which is what I did my college training in.”

A week before school started, however, he was called into the principal’s office again. He told DeWeese he was the new automotive teacher.

“I only had six college hours in automotive training when I started teaching at Campus High School,” said DeWeese. “I studied each lesson the night before I was going to present.”

DeWeese spent six years teaching at Campus High School. On nights and Saturdays, the couple would drive to Emporia to school to work on their master degrees. They both graduated with their masters in 1968.

“That allowed me to look around for another job,” said DeWeese. “A job had opened up at Pratt Community College. They were wanting to expand the tech area and I was lucky enough to apply and get a job at the college.”

DeWeese taught at PCC for eight years. Then, he had a chance to farm and did so for nine years. A family tragedy caused DeWeese to lose three quarters of his farming ground so he had to find another job.

“PCC needed another instructor again, so I spent 22 more years teaching,” said DeWeese.

The college had tried to make DeWeese an administrator a time or two, but he decided he got along better in the classroom.

“I taught some classes I never taught before,” said DeWeese. “But I told them to give me 12-15 people that want to learn and we’ll learn together.”

Air conditioning and electrical classes were among DeWeese’s favorite classes to teach.

“You don’t get as greasy or dirty in those classes,” said DeWeese. “You can’t beat teaching air conditioning and you can’t beat teaching electrical.”

DeWeese also enjoys all things engines.

“I love engines,” said DeWeese. “To bring in an old diesel engine that is all dirty, grimy, and wore out but still has the basic components to work on was great. We would take them, rebuild them, and paint them. We would put them on a dyno and develop horsepower like it was new. To me, that is a lot of satisfaction. I’ve got one engine that’s personal that has over 39,000 hours on it. It’s only been rebuilt twice.”

DeWeese started the diesel mechanic program at PCC. However, due to an administration change, the college canceled the program so they could focus on something else.

“Eventually it was brought back,” said DeWeese. “However during my years of working on cars, I am master certified in ASE, Automotive Service Excellence. They wanted me to stay in the automotive area since I was a master tech in the field. They got somebody else to teach the Ag Power program.”

Perhaps his favorite memory during his time at PCC was the time the school obtained its vocational accreditation under the leadership of President John Gwaltney.

“That was probably the biggest thing that helped us in establishing Pratt as a tech school,” said DeWeese. “We took a busload of people to Topeka for that hearing. We all carried a book of letters of recommendation. It was one or two manuals that was six inches thick. We spent $500 to feed the bus load of people and I think I even drove the bus. I would say that was probably the highlight of my experience at PCC.”

DeWeese retired from PCC in 2007. He also taught at Kingman High School in the technical area. Overall, he spent 40 years in the classroom. He remains in contact with several of his former students today.

“I had such good students over the years,” said DeWeese. “I am still in contact with many of them in the community and all over the country. We still get invites to their kids’ graduations and their weddings. We get half a dozen invitations every year. We try to make as many of them as we can. If they are within driving distance and we can go, we go.”

During his time at the college, DeWeese was able to teach with Manwarren and work with administrators such as Dr. Norman Myers, Dr. Jerry Gallentine, and John White. They were a great influence on his teaching performance.

DeWeese is still very active in the Pratt community. He has been involved with Pratt County 4-H since 1970. He has worked the Thanksgiving community dinner for over 15 years. He has also served over 25 years on the Township 12 fire department. Both, Dwane and Sue, are elders at the First Christian Church. They have three children: Jerry and Anita DeWeese and their children, Taylor, Jessica and Jarod; Jenny and Mike Manderino and children, Savana and Annika Larrison; and Julie and Brian Zitlow and children, Carson and Lauren.

“Everything my wife and I have been able to accumulate has been a blessing of the Lord and generous people that have helped us through our 54 years,” said DeWeese.

Five years ago, DeWeese ran for the Board of Trustees at PCC and he continues to be a Board of Trustee member today.

“I enjoy working with people at this school,” said DeWeese. “PCC, the state of Kansas, and our great nation provides great education opportunities if you have the want to better yourself. There are scholarships, grants, companies, internships, and people to help others better themselves.”

DeWeese and his wife Sue spent 40 years each in the classroom. In retirement, Sue operates Sue’s Embroidery on Main Street while Dwane is a full time farmer.

September 6, 1938, Pratt Junior College opened its doors as the 14th junior college created in Kansas. Pratt “Juco” welcomed 150 new students to its original campus located on 401 S Hamilton St. Eighty years later, Pratt Community College, is proud to have helped build the futures of thousands of students on-campus, online, at our Winfield and Wichita learning centers and through high school concurrent enrollment.

The mission of Pratt Community College is maximum student learning, individual and workforce development, high quality instruction and service, and community enrichment. PCC is proud to be a part of the community in Pratt, Kansas. With more than 80 years of history, PCC remains humbled to serve our community and students who come to build a foundation for their lives.

This year we celebrate this grand anniversary and remember those who’ve walked through these halls. Each month during 2018 PCC is proud to feature stories and memories from alumnae, community members and faculty who have helped see our institution and mission grow. If you would like to share an experience or memory or be considered for one of our monthly features contact Jessica Sanko, 620-450-2192, jessicas@prattcc.edu.