Large image
His Life
November 13, 2013

Steven R Kale passed away on November 7, 2013 in his hometown of Salem, Oregon after a brief illness. Although only 65 years old when he died, Steve accomplished much in his life in academics, his profession and in relationships with others in his life. 

Steve was born in Manhattan Kansas in 1948 to Alton and Ruby Kale, the middle of three children. He spent his early years in central Kansas, graduating in 1966 from Mankato High School.  During this period, Steve, like his brother James before him, earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He went on to graduate from Kansas State University in Manhattan earning degrees in Geography and Business Administration. He then obtained Masters and PHD degrees from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.  

Steve’s early career included work as an economist at the Nebraska Department of Economic Development from 1975 to 1982.  He moved on to Oregon State University in Corvallis from 1982 to 1989 teaching courses and conducting research in economic development, area and community development, renewable energy, and other topics.

He then took on transportation planning work at the Oregon Department of Transportation. When he retired from ODOT in 2005 he was the agency's primary freight planning person.  He then set up his own consulting firm and took on jobs for several Oregon ports and intermodal freight businesses helping them plan and seek funding for projects. He subcontracted with other consulting firms on a variety of transportation related projects.

During his career, Steven was active in many professional organizations and national bodies. These included the American Institute of Certified Planners and the Intermodal Freight Transport Committee of the Transportation Research Board where he served as the chair. He was also active in groups such as the American Association of Geographers, and the International Geographic Union. Steven never lost his enthusiasm for geography or his interest in helping his alma mater and served on the KSU Geography Alumni Board.   

He had a lifelong interest in far-away places, traveling to many of them such as Oulu Finland, Mendoza Argentina, Sidney Australia, Dubrovnik Croatia and much of Europe, not to mention hitting all 50 US states. He twice got to the Artic Circle, once in Alaska and once in Finland. On his trips he did more than sight-see. He learned about the areas he visited and on occasion traveled to participate in conferences with his geographer peers.

Steve loved the outdoors. Other interests included hiking, camping, skiing, canoeing, whitewater rafting and bird-watching. He was a strong supporter of protecting the environment. He cultivated lifelong friendships with many people. His personal and professional qualities were very much respected and he will be dearly missed.

Steve was preceded in death by his mother Ruby (Streit), father Alton Dale Kale, his sister Elaine and brother James. He is survived by three nephews: Jonathan Cote, David Kale, and Dan Kale.


A memorial fund has been set up in Steve's honor to provide funding assistance to the Kansas State University Department of Geography. Those wishing to make contributions to the Fund should indicate the following:

Steve Kale Memorial Fund
Fund # M47034

Donations can be mailed to (and checks made out to):

Kansas State University Foundation
2323 Anderson Ave, Suite 500
Manhattan, KS 66502
Another option is to go to the Kansas State “Giving to Geography” page and click on the link to the Steve Kale Memorial Fund at the bottom of the page: