By Vince Frieden, Development Communications
No matter where life carried Dr. Ralph Kah ’55, he could never quite evade his passion for intercollegiate athletics or the long reach of Miami University’s Cradle of Coaches.
Kah and his wife, DeeAnn, recently paid tribute to that lifelong history by making an investment in the future of Miami Athletics. Their testamentary gift, which counts toward Miami’s $80 million Graduating Champions Campaign, will create a major endowed scholarship fund that will strengthen Miami’s position to recruit top student-athletes for generations to come.
“Miami has always been very impressive academically, but why can’t we be just as impressive athletically?” Kah said. “DeeAnn and I believe athletics are an important part of Miami’s reputation, and we saw scholarships as a way to bring together our support of both athletics and academics.”
A native of Middletown, Ohio, and the son of a Miami alumna, Kah grew up visiting Oxford and remembers spending many a Thanksgiving day watching the Red and White battle the University of Cincinnati on the gridiron. He arrived on campus in 1951 as a zoology major, at a time when athletics were a core social element of campus life.
“I never missed a game,” Kah said. “At that time, it was unusual not to go. You’d study like crazy, and then you’d take a break on Saturday to see the football game or on a weeknight to see the basketball game.”
Kah, a retired gynecological surgeon, decided he wanted to become a doctor at six years old. Following Miami, he pursued that dream through medical school at Ohio State University. He spent 10 years there as a student, resident, intern and instructor. During that time, he and DeeAnn were regulars at Ohio Stadium, following the success of Woody Hayes’ Buckeyes on the football field while also getting to know then-assistant coach Bo Schembechler ’51.
As part of the Berry Plan, which allowed doctors to defer their military service while completing their education and residency, Kah made his next life transition in 1964 when he received assignment to First Army Headquarters hospital in New York City and to West Point Military Academy.
While the Vietnam War era was a trying time and the bugles played all too frequently at the West Point Cemetery near their home, the Kahs again found familiarity and escape in college athletics. Fellow Miamian Paul Dietzel ’48 was Army’s head football coach when they arrived, and, on the hardwood, a young Bobby Knight was coaching a senior guard named Mike Krzyzewski.
The couple eventually returned to Middletown, where Kah spent the remainder of his career in private practice. He followed in the teaching footsteps of his mother and sisters by also serving as a clinical instructor at Wright State University and the University of Cincinnati.
As long-time season ticket holders for both football and men’s basketball, the Kahs continue to make frequent visits to Oxford. They hope their support and the overall Graduating Champions Campaign will reinvigorate Miami’s athletic tradition and ensure intercollegiate athletics remains an important part of the total Miami Experience.
“Miami gave me this great and very personal experience that left an impression on me, and athletics were an important part of that,” Kah said. “Miami should be as competitive athletically as it is academically, and if we’re going to compete at the Division I level, we need the resources to recruit against Division I schools.”
The Graduating Champions Campaign is an $80 million initiative to significantly increase student-athlete scholarship support and improve Miami’s athletic facilities.
To learn how you can support Miami through your will, trust or by using other charitable tax strategies, visit our Gift Planning pages.