Col. Roy A. Kane (Oct. 27, 1916 – May 21, 2013) was involved in the chase of a decorated German leader entangled in a scheme to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was deployed for 13 months after the start of the Korean War. While he was enlisted in the U.S. Army, his family lived in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Virginia, Arizona and Japan. He worked for the Pentagon, as a professor of military science at the University of Milwaukee, and as a commander of Comb Surveillance Intelligence School, where he became a pilot for Mohawk planes.
Roy Kane, former director of the Fort Huachuca/Sierra Vista Center of Cochise College, attended the 25th anniversary celebration of the Sierra Vista Campus in 2003 with his wife Dorothy.
But Kane’s second career as a teacher and administrator at Cochise College brought him local recognition as a key figure in the development of what is now the college’s most populous campus.
“Serving here at the Sierra Vista Campus was the most rewarding experience of my life,” Kane said in an interview with retired faculty Dr. Jack Ziegler for “A Brave New World,” a history of the campus.
So far as Ziegler knows, his former boss – Kane once hired him as his administrative assistant – was an artillery officer with the famed Ninth Infantry Division at Kasserine Pass, Normandy, and the Battle of the Bulge, and he worked at the Pentagon during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“He was the most pleasant guy,” Ziegler said. “For a guy who’d done so many things, it’s kind of amazing he’d say his time at the college meant so much to him.”
At the time he worked for Kane, Ziegler was pursuing his doctorate and teaching part time. Kane, who’d studied law at Iowa State University before joining the military, encouraged him to do what he needed to at work, but to focus on earning that degree. Ziegler, a veteran himself and a lifelong reader, went on to teach literature, philosophy and film at the college until retiring in 2004.
For his part, Kane began working for the college as the coordinator of cooperative education in 1971, the year he retired from the Army. A short time later, he became the director of the Fort Huachuca/Sierra Vista Center, then a scattered arrangement of classes offered at the Army Education Center on post and at the former Buena High School site at the intersection of Fry Boulevard and Highway 90. During Kane’s time at the college, the institution began holding classes not just on post, but also in temporary classroom buildings at the former site of Buena High School.
“All of that put together led to the development of the campus because enrollments were increasing,” said Dick Seals, former assistant director of the Sierra Vista Campus.
The college later received a donation of 40 acres of land on which the current campus is constructed and grew enrollment from 200 to 2,000. Kane’s role transitioned into Sierra Vista Campus dean and division chair and, finally, instructor of business. He left the college in the early 1980s, but not before hiring Pat Hotchkiss, who now is director of college libraries, including the Andrea Cracchiolo Library, named for the man whose family contributed the land for the campus.
“I was quite young and this was only my second job interview, and he had a knack for making people comfortable,” Hotchkiss recalled. “Roy was definitely the ‘patriarch’ of the Sierra Vista Center. He created a real sense of family there and involved everyone in activities – even me. I probably wouldn’t still be at the college today if he hadn’t hired me and encouraged me to stay on through the three years I worked part time.”
What was once a smattering of classes offered at various locations on Fort Huachuca and in Sierra Vista evolved into a cluster of portable buildings that later moved and expanded to become the Sierra Vista Campus, which today encompasses more than 14 buildings and serves some 4,000 students per semester, due in no small part to the contributions of Roy Kane.