UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Events coalesced early in Dallas Krapf’s life to eventually convert him into an indefatigable Penn State and military supporter: the Vietnam War, his attendance at Lycoming College, living near the Great Valley campus and having two sisters attend Penn State.
Both passions have been combined in his latest philanthropic act. The Dallas and Diane Krapf ROTC Outstanding Leadership and Service Scholarship will be awarded to undergraduate students who have demonstrated excellent academics, participate in a leadership position and/or are involved in volunteer outreach in their community and are enrolled or plan to enroll in any of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs at Penn State. The two have pledged $100,000 to the endowment.
Capt. Scott Young, Penn State joint service coordinator and Naval ROTC commander, said Krapf has been a tireless supporter of his program and other efforts across the University.
“For somebody who gives so much to support not just the ROTC, but the entire University and community, Dallas is incredibly humble,” Young said. “He certainly doesn’t do it for any kind of recognition and actually shies away from any thanks he gets from students in ROTC, which makes his generosity so genuine.”
Giving to ROTC
Alumni from Penn State Great Valley know Krapf’s name well. He and his wife, Di, are the namesake of the alumni building on the campus. He’s given numerous gifts to the campus and sponsored events and fundraisers there.
Few people, however, probably know of the Krapfs’ support of the Penn State Naval ROTC over the years, save the midshipmen that have benefited from the scholarship he supports or enjoyed his sprawling football tailgates each year.
Penn State Trustee Ryan McCombie, himself a Navy veteran, said Krapf has been a consistent contributor to an existing scholarship named after McCombie’s late son. He said Krapf has become a personal friend, and described him as “wonderful, quiet and humble.”
“Dallas asks nothing of his friends but good humor, service and honesty,” McCombie said. “He gives liberally and generously. He understands the sacrifices that our young service men and women make and is determined to recognize them. He is truly someone who is building ‘the next greatest generation’ by his consistent and faithful support and generosity to our young service people.”
Krapf is a U.S. Army veteran, serving from 1967 to 1970 after being drafted. Even though he was never sent to Vietnam, he said from that point on his service instilled in him an appreciation for the military and its people.
Much later in life, he would meet McCombie, a retired Navy SEAL captain. McCombie’s son, Brandan, was killed during a flight accident in 2002 while flying an S-3B Viking with the USS Harry S. Truman battle group during a training exercise near Puerto Rico. Brandan was a Penn State honors student and part of the Naval ROTC program.
Krapf said he was inspired to support the scholarship in Brandan’s name that would benefit Naval ROTC cadets. It would begin a yearslong relationship of giving with ROTC.
“Dallas asks nothing of his friends but good humor, service and honesty.”
—Ryan McCombie, Penn State trustee and Navy veteran
Through his support of the scholarship, Krapf said he began to learn more about ROTC. It prompted him to start a Naval ROTC tailgate in 2012, playing host to the Navy midshipmen, cadre and their families.
“To me, that group of people are just the finest group of men and women that you would ever meet,” Krapf said about the ROTC students.
Each year the tailgate grows larger, he said, with hundreds in attendance. He said it’s quickly becoming the favorite tailgate among his friends, too, who all want to rub shoulders with ROTC.
“Over all the years, the fine student-athletes Penn State has had are just amazing,” he said. “Student ROTC members are just as amazing. Sometimes I don’t think they get the credit they deserve.”
Long history of giving
Krapf might not be a Penn State alumnus, but few could question his devotion to all things blue and white. He’s held football season tickets since 1972, with his interest starting when he and his brother attended Lycoming College in Williamsport in the 1960s and searched for weekend activities. It seems he caught the Nittany Lion bug in a big way, because he’s been tailgating at nearly every home game ever since. Dallas and Di Krapf also have season tickets wrestling, basketball and hockey games at University Park.
His late sister, Millie Krapf Fails, is a University alumna. Krapf described her as a more die-hard Penn State fan than he is. Among his philanthropic efforts at Great Valley, he and Di dedicated a piano in Millie’s name to the campus.
The Krapfs are contributors to the Lasch Building, the home of Penn State football, and also Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
However, it’s not all just athletics and ROTC for the Krapfs. On top of their giving to Penn State Great Valley, they’ve also given to the libraries, and helped to support the endeavors of Joe and Sue Paterno, including the Special Olympics.
As time goes on, Krapf said he finds only more reasons to give and said he’s working on even more major gifts.
Though he himself never went back to college for a degree and wishes he had gone to Penn State, he said the University has a way of bringing people into its community.
“You know how people get sucked into Penn State,” he joked. “You become a die-hard Penn State fan. It’s just something that happens.”
Krapf has spent his life at the family business: Krapf School Bus, founded by his parents, George and Eleanor Krapf. They began transporting Chester County students in 1942 and have since expanded into Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey and New York.
This gift from Dallas and Diane Krapf will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a twenty-first-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.