NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A retired Kansas farmer who pitched in to help New York health care workers fight COVID-19 received a special honor Tuesday.

Dennis Ruhnke was awarded his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University.

Back in 1971, he was two credits away from a degree in agriculture, when his dad passed away. He left school to take care of his mom and their family farm.

Ruhnke won the hearts of New Yorkers for his act of kindness at the end of March. He sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that included an N95 mask meant to be given to a New York doctor or nurse.

In the hand-written letter, which also was signed by his wife, Sharon, he said the mask was left over from his farming days.

Cuomo read the entire letter at one of his daily briefings and described Ruhnke’s action as an example of courage and generosity in dark times.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said he “perfectly encapsulates K-State’s democratic mandate to be of service to people.”

Ruhnke has said he was surprised at the public attention.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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