The world lost a brilliant mind, a trusted friend, and a compassionate teacher when the Lord suddenly welcomed His servant, Dr. Keith Bolsen, to his heavenly home on Friday, May 29. Keith and his beloved wife Ruthie had just moved into their new Spicewood, Texas home. Keith was a devout Christian and his faith has led him home. He is survived by his wife, Ruth E. Bolsen; his daughter and son-in-law, Krista L. and John Corkill; five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren; his sister, Drusilla Hollingsworth; and several cousins. He was the only son of Henry and Faye Bolsen, who preceded him in death along with his sister Marge.
Professionally, Keith was known globally for his passion and expertise and has counseled countless farmers on how to make safer, better forages. Most people knew him as The Silageman™ and he probably had his hands on and evaluated more silage than anyone else since ‘ensilage’ was introduced into the Western Hemisphere in the 1870s.
Keith was a Professor Emeritus of Cattle Nutrition in the Animal Sciences & Industry Department at Kansas State University in Manhattan. He was raised on his parent’s grain/livestock farm near the small town of Bement, Illinois. Keith received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1966 and 1967, and he received a Ph.D. in Cattle Nutrition from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 1971.
Keith began a 32-year teaching and research career at Kansas State University in 1971, where he focused on the performance of growing cattle fed silage-based rations, agronomics of silage crops, silage fermentation, and additives, storage losses, and the application of a team approach to silage management. He taught two Principles of Livestock Feeding courses and a Silage Technology course, and he served as the major professor for 39 graduate students who earned 28 M.Sc. and 19 Ph.D. degrees at K-State.
Keith conducted research on silage additives and the ensiling of tropical forages during Sabbatical leaves at the Grassland Research Institute in Hurley, England (1978), the Volcani Institute in Bet Dagan, Israel (1993), and the Dairy Training and Research Institute at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos (1994). Keith has lectured on silage technology in over 40 countries. Keith retired from K-State in June 2003.
Recently Keith and Ruthie founded the Keith Bolsen Silage Safety Foundation, and he embraced his mission to make everyone aware of how to work safely with silage, sending everyone home safe during harvest and while managing it. His tireless energy and perseverance in delivering this message is unrivaled. Ruthie and the Foundation Board of Directors will be developing a plan for the organization going forward in the next months.
Please refer to the Foundation website, silagesafety.org, for further announcements. Ruthie and the family appreciate your prayers, concern, and love. In lieu of flowers, food, and other gifts, please consider donating to the Keith Bolsen Silage Safety Foundation. Safety was truly Keith’s passion that he shared with Ruthie, and a contribution would be most appropriate and appreciated.