Dennis John Kilper, professor emeritus in the School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, died of complications from the flu on Jan. 14, at his home in Tucson, Arizona.
A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1975, Kilper retired in 2009, when he was honored as T.A. Carter Professor Emeritus by the Board of Visitors.
During his 34-year tenure at Virginia Tech, Kilper provided strong leadership while serving as co-chair of the undergraduate architecture program and chair of the graduate architecture program, where he substantially contributed to the development of the Ph.D. program in the college. He was responsible for instituting many significant academic initiatives, including specialized courses in building systems, computer simulations, and technical case studies.
His professional work was recognized with three honor awards and one merit award from the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects. As the T.A. Carter Professor of Architecture chair in the School of Architecture + Design, Kilper earned several college and university teaching awards.
An accomplished painter, his pictorial work hangs in museums and private collections nationwide.
In Kilper’s 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.”
Kilper was born on May 29, 1941, in St. Louis to John and Virginia Kilper. He often shared fond memories of childhood adventures in St. Louis and how they shaped his art, architecture, and compassion with students, colleagues, and friends.
He received B.S. and M.S. degrees 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, where his children were born. He went back to school at Rice University in Houston, Texas, to teach and earn his his doctorate in architecture. In 1975, Kilper and his family moved to Blacksburg, where he distinguished himself as a professor, architect, and artist.
Kilper is survived by his wife of 54 years, Rosalie Kilper; sons Dennis Jr. and Daniel; daughter-in-law Yan; grandchildren Thurgood, Tristan, and Isabella; brother David and sister Diane Klamert; and many relatives in St. Louis and across the country.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 3, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Blacksburg. In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association.