A Farewell to a Legacy: Mr. and Mrs. Kies Reflect On Decades of Service To Africa University And The Community

Story by Juliet Sithole

“It’s not the end but a transition, and though we are excited about what’s ahead, it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to such incredible persons. Working alongside each of you has been a privilege. We have shared successes and challenges, laughter and late nights, and it’s these moments that have not only helped us achieve our goals, but have also created lasting memories,” remarked Larry Kies as he looks back on his time in service.

Born in Iowa in 1953, Larry Kies witnessed the launch of Sputnik in 1957, an event that spurred the United States to promote scientific development through scholarships. Benefiting from one such scholarship, Kies graduated with a degree in Biology, allowing him to pursue his passion for education and agriculture in Africa. Raised in a family of 11 children with limited financial resources, the scholarship enabled him to come to Africa nearly debt-free, setting the stage for his lifelong mission.

Larry Kies served as a missionary in Botswana, where he taught Agriculture and managed a mission school farm. In 1994, he moved to Zimbabwe to manage the Nyadire Mission Farm near Mutoko. These experiences paved the way for his long career as an Agriculture lecturer and Technical Advisor at Africa University. His own educational journey inspired him to secure funds for scholarships, helping many Africa University students realize their academic dreams.

Reflecting on their time at Africa University, Mrs. Jane Kies who taught Intensive English, shared a poignant memory: “This graduation, I was reminded by a former student of a trip some students from the Intensive English class took to Great Zimbabwe and Kyle National Park in 2003. It marked the beginning of a 20-year adventure of teaching and learning in the IE program for which I feel incredibly fortunate and blessed.”

Mrs. Kies emphasized the importance of the Intensive English program to Africa University’s vision, noting its role in fostering a rich and diverse cultural environment. The Intensive English classes have served as a home base for thousands of students from various countries, significantly impacting her own perspectives through interactions with young people from across the continent and beyond.

The Kies’ tenure at Africa University is marked by numerous highlights, including the development of the Africa University Farm to provide hands-on learning experiences. Mr. Kies recalled a touching moment at a recent graduation ceremony when an Executive Masters in Business Administration  graduate expressed gratitude for teaching her to milk a cow during her undergraduate studies in Accounting. “Seeing students gain skills and confidence, overcoming fears, and savoring the joy of harvesting crops they grew themselves are memories I will forever cherish,” he said.

Mr. Kies also reflected on their interactions with children and staff at Fairfield Children’s Home, witnessing their successes as they graduated from and later worked at Africa University. The Kies’ roles included serving as goodwill ambassadors in the US, forming deep friendships and building bridges to support scholarships and the AU Farm’s development.

As they step away from their roles, Africa University will feel their absence, but the seeds they have sown will flourish for generations. Mr. and Mrs. Kies depart with hearts full of gratitude and minds brimming with memories, confident that their legacy of passion, dedication, and love for learning will continue to inspire.

“We are so thankful to the Lord and to this incredible University for allowing us to experience this small part of AU’s development and become part of its legacy. We hope to always be part of its future,” they said in their parting message.

Their journey is far from over; it has simply taken a new direction. Hand-in-hand, they look forward to the adventures ahead, knowing they will continue to inspire all who walked the paths they once trod.