When Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York held up a letter and N-95 mask sent to him by a retired Kansas farmer, he called it humanity at its best.
"If you could, would you please give this mask to a nurse or doctor in your state?" read the March letter from Dennis Ruhnke.
Now, Ruhnke has been given an honorary degree from his state.
"Dennis' kindness and lifelong career in agriculture make him more than qualified to receive a degree," Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said in a Facebook post.
Kelly and Kansas State University President Richard Myers presented Ruhnke with a bachelor's degree during a ceremony on Tuesday.
Ruhnke was two credits shy of earning his degree in 1971 when his father died, according to Kelly's post. He decided to leave school to look after his mother and the family farm.
The N-95 mask was one of five left over from Ruhnke's farming days, he said in the letter. He and his wife, who are both in their 70s, sent the unused mask to Cuomo amid a medical supply shortage.
New York has been the hardest hit state during the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 321,000 reported cases and at least 25,124 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.