August 19, 1926 ~ June 20, 2012
Max Robert Kolarik was born on August 19, 1926, in Caldwell, Kansas, and died on June 20, 2012, at the age of 85 in Quinlan, Texas. He was the son of Emanuel Kolarik and Mary Albert Kolarik. He graduated from Caldwell High School in 1944 and served with the Civil Air Patrol in Medford, Oklahoma during World War II.
Until recently Max lived on his Golden K Farm west of Caldwell. He was a third-generation wheat farmer, and widely known as an innovative plant breeder and seed producer. In 1964 he was named Premier Seed Grower by the Kansas Crop Improvement Association. Max was especially proud of developing a wheat variety, G/K Big Max, named for him. G/K Big Max was introduced to the market in 2003 and is widely grown in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, and as far away as Australia. Even though he spent most of his life developing it, Max did not try to keep his wheat variety proprietary. He wanted his life’s work to be used for the common good and encouraged his customers to save and plant their own Big Max seed.
For many years he participated in the Kansas State University Wheat Plot Program with annual tours of his test plots, a practice begun by his father, which attracted statewide attention. He grew Kafir and Turkey Red Wheat among other varieties. As a member of the Wheat Breeders and Research Station, which promoted worldwide wheat development , he traveled to Russia and Mexico. He participated in numerous other activities related to wheat production and evaluation such as the Sumner County Wheat Festival in Wellington and the Sumner County Fair in Caldwell, where he was Grand Marshall in 2009.
Max owned and operated a seed cleaning and treating business, which served many local farmers. He designed and built an innovative seed cleaning system which could be operated end to end by one man. Installed in an old barn, this system was capable of cleaning seed for any crop grown in the region. He successfully operated his seed cleaning system for several decades, making minor improvements on a regular basis. African, French and Swedish foreign exchange students from Kansas State University came to study his grain cleaning equipment. Near planting time it was normal to see loaded trucks in line at Max’s farm for wheat cleaning. During 1963, he processed over 100,000 bushels of 50 different varieties of registered and certified hard red winter seed wheat. His business continued to grow over the years.
Max was active in the community serving on various boards and organizations such as the Sumner-Cowley Electric Cooperative, Inc., the Kansas Electric Co-op, and the statewide Rural Electric Association Board. He was a charter member of the Board of Directors of KEPCO, which was charged with developing nuclear power and overseeing the first nuclear power plant near Topeka. In 2004, he was a candidate for District 3 Sumner County Commissioner. Max was a 32nd-degree Mason in Sumner Lodge 203. An avid gardener, he loved growing things of all kinds. He will be remembered as a local philosopher with wide interests and intriguing stories.
Max was married to Kathleen Baxter in 1964. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Lawrence and is survived by two children, Mary M. Kolarik of Wichita, Kansas, and Mark R. Kolarik of Goddard, Kansas; as well as a niece, Debbie Kolarik Barnes of Caldwell, Kansas, and a large extended family.
A memorial service will be held 10:00 a.m., Monday, July 16, 2012 at the Schaeffer Mortuary Chapel.
Memorials may be given in Max’s name to the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children.
Family and Friends - 06/30/2012
Max Kolarik was a past Board Member of Sumner Cowley Electric Co-operative. As President of the Board, and on behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish to convey our sympathy to Max's family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Rex & Pat Morgan
Family and Friends - 07/10/2012
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Max during this time of his death We met Max while Pat was serving on the Sumner Cowley Rural Electric Board. Max was very helpful in assisting Pat with her duties as a board member. May God bless each of you and be with you now and always.