Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. . .” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
This past month Norwalk lost a respected educator, coach and community leader, Dave Mineart. He put his whole soul into what he loved: teaching biology, coaching football and track and working for the good of the Norwalk and Warren County communities. He stamped his personality on everything he did, and his legacy ripples throughout the community in the lives of his former students, athletes and colleagues; I know this because I am one of them.
Dave lived every day with passion and purpose; it was who he was. In his high school and college days as an outstanding athlete, serving as captain in four sports in high school and being a two-time college football captain, Dave was an Iowa Wesleyan College Athletic Hall of Famer, holding the record for football tackles for 37 years and for the javelin throw for even more. His passion for athletics and education continued as he left college. Dave loved biology and loved teaching it more, sharing his passion with countless students. I personally remember Dave always took his class out to a wooded area to identify plants and birds in “their natural state.” The enthusiasm in his voice as we “trekked” through the woods (and in the 1960s, girls had to wear skirts to school) was impossible for even the most cynical among us to ignore as we called out “cardinal,” “sparrow” or “warbler” only to have Dave, with his signature hands-on-his-hips stance, ask us with a grin “Well, what kind?” He believed in, encouraged, pushed and nurtured us to be our best selves.
As a coach, Dave stood well above most. He was dedicated to his athletes, demanding their best in both practice and games, giving his best in return. In a volunteer “labor of love” he personally cleared and leveled several new practice fields for the junior high and high schools, devoting hours of work for “his boys.” The high school field bears the name “Mineart Field” in his honor. During the years, Dave’s teams won numerous conference and district titles in football as well as in track, and several young men were state track champions under his tutelage. For his long, successful career, Dave was named to the Iowa High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, retiring as one of the top 10 winningest football coaches.
Dave Mineart wasn’t “just a teacher” or “just a coach;” he was the kind of person we wanted to be “when we grew up.” He was dedicated, full of passion, integrity and fidelity. As an educator and English teacher myself, I know that not everyone loves Shakespeare, but I hope my enthusiasm is a reflection of Dave’s because those kids I have touched are really the recipients of Dave Mineart’s legacy. He loved well, was loved and respected in return and will be sorely missed.
A memorial fund benefiting the football, track and science programs in Norwalk and at Iowa Wesleyan College has been set up at City State Bank in Norwalk. Donations can be made to The Dave Mineart 12th Man Memorial Fund.