In Memoriam: Dennis J. Kilper
January 18, 2018
As many of you are aware, I have sad news to pass on to the School: Professor Emeritus Dennis Kilper passed away on January 14, 2018 in Tucson, Arizona where he was living with his wife Rosalie near their son Daniel Kilper. Dennis joined the faculty in 1975 and had a distinguished 34 year career retiring in 2009. Many, of us, including myself, benefited from his knowledge and great love of architecture in the design lab during those years. He served for many years as program chair in the professional program and for most of his tenure was at the core of the third-year design labs and by extension with many fifth year students. (from Prof. Hunter Pittman, Director, School of Architecture + Design)
T.A. Carter Professor Emeritus of Architecture Dennis John Kilper passed away of complications from the flu on January 14, 2018, at his home in Tucson, Arizona. He is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Rosalie Kilper, sons Dennis Jr. and Daniel, daughter-in-law Yan, and grandchildren Thurgood, Tristan, and Isabella, brother David and sister Diane Klamert, and many relatives in St. Louis and across the country.
Dennis was born on May 29, 1941 at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri to John and Virginia Kilper. He was always eager to share fond memories of childhood adventures in St. Louis and how they shaped his art, architecture, and compassion, and his students, colleagues and friends came to know the importance of these reflections. He received a B.S. degree and a professional degree in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and became a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He started his career at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in Chicago, Illinois where his children were born. He went back to school at Rice University in Houston, Texas to teach, where he received his doctorate in Architecture. In 1975, he moved to Blacksburg, Virginia where he distinguished himself over almost 35 years as a Virginia Tech professor, architect, and artist. Honored with the T.A. Carter endowed professorship in architecture, he retired as Professor Emeritus from the School of Architecture + Design in 2009. During his tenure at Virginia Tech, he served as Chair of the Graduate Program in Architecture and as Chair of the Professional Core Program, the middle portion of the undergraduate Architecture curriculum. He was responsible for instituting many significant academic initiatives, including specialized courses in building systems, computer simulations, and technical case studies. He substantially contributed to the development of the Ph.D. Program in the College. His teaching was provoking and inspiring, receiving several College and University teaching awards. He was a licensed architect, and, during his professional practice in Blacksburg, he received four Honor and Merit Design Awards from the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects. An accomplished painter, his pictorial work hangs in museums and private collections nationwide. In his own words, "I have studied, worked, researched, designed, painted, sketched, lectured and taught many things, from particle physics and engineering, to environmental and community health planning... I know I should better have been born in the 16th century. But I'm here now." He will be fondly remembered by generations of students and many colleagues from around the world. A devoted husband and father who was always open and selfless in helping others, Dennis will be sorely missed by his family and friends.
Dennis embraced a culture of comprehensive design thinking. He resisted additive and integrative approaches that separated critical issues first, then brought them together. His designs were immediately comprehensive and complex, that would, over the design process, reveal the components. He challenged himself to the same degree he did the students. As an avid painter, story teller and scientist, his architecture and his teaching were never simple, but always vital and questioning. We are a better School having had Dennis among us, and he will continue to be missed. (Reynolds Metal Professor and former CAUS Dean, Jack Davis, remembering Dennis)
A memorial service will be held at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Blacksburg, Virginia at 11 am on Saturday, February 3, 2018. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions be made to the Alzheimer's Association.