Page B6, B9
Sunday, October 19, 1997
in Dan Mundt's busy lifestyle
The word for
this week is "Mentor."
Our good neighbor
reflects on a lifetime of memories that include a number of mentors
who have helped him shape a life of commitment and contribution.
Dan Mundt was
born on July 28, 1927 in Barron, Wis. He was one of four children,
two of which were from Dad's previous marriage. The family grew up
in nearby Spooner.
is somewhat obscure in most sections of the country, but in Spooner,
in the early 1900s, railroading was a way of life. Spooner was a divisional
point where 26 passenger trains passed through daily. Today, Dan is
president of the Railroad Memories Museum in Spooner.
early childhood memories were somewhat of a blur for Dan. For one
thing, the Great Depression was in full swing and there wasn't a lot
of money around to buy ice cream cones, and other pleasures were obviously
limited. However, Dan and his younger brother, Fred, did a lot of
hunting and fishing together and Dan indeed loved sports and he was
pretty good at it too. When Dan was 14 years old, a divorce
split the family in two and Mom, Dan and Fred moved to Shawano, Wis.
near Green Bay where Mom resumed her teaching career as a remedial
reading instructor. She was an early mentor to Dan.
a bustling community, active in tourism, lumber and agriculture. In
fact, a major paper mill was the hub of Shawano's economy.
great, reflects Dan. Even at an early age, he had an inquisitive
mind and loved to visit the local blacksmith who was street wise and
willing to take the time to visit with Dan and others. And,
of course, high school sports was Dan's greatest love, and he was
a strong kid who played quarterback and half back in senior high school.
But there was more, of course. High school teacher Sarah Mielke
was perhaps Dan's first real mentor. The blacksmith was too,
but Miss Mielke really cared about her students and Dan will never
forget her. She was an excellent teacher with perception as well,
she advised the young men in her high school classes how to prepare
for the Army as World War II was in full swing. Another mentor,
Otto Reetz, Shawano school superintendent, was also a strong mentor.
We are just getting started here.
In high school,
Dan was active in speech, debate, original oratory, football, basketball
and track. How did he keep in shape during summer break? He worked
as a farm hand near Madison, Wis. He did it all, pitched hay, milked
the cows, cleaned up the manure, did some weeding and the list goes
on. Well, as some say, busy hands are happy hands.
from high school in 1945 and joined the Army as a buck private. He
received his basic infantry training at Camp Robinson, Ark., where
he applied for officers candidate school. He was interested in chemical
warfare, engineering or the military police. None of the above of
course were offered, and instead, he was assigned to the field artillery
and took his officer training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and then was assigned
to the 12th Infantry Division in the Philippines, as a second lieutenant
in command of Company B, 24th Battalion.
He loved it
and was stationed at Camp O'Donnell where the Bataan Death March ended.
He could have stayed in the Army as a regular Army officer but opted
to move on with his life and was separated in 1948, returning to Shawano.
He took a special General Educational Development Test and qualified
to skip most of the first two years of college. He entered the University
of Minnesota n Minneapolis, and earned a bachelors degree in business
While at the
U of M, Dan worked part-time at the Northeast Neighborhood House,
assisting immigrants from Poland adjust to life in Minneapolis.
It was a great opportunity for community services and a strong seed
was planted. Also, during this period, another mentor in Dan's life
surfaced - Herb Heneman. Heneman was assistant head of industrial
relations at the U of M. His careful guidance and interest in Dan
made the transition from the military to the world of business just
a little easier.
Dan went to work for Munsingwear and again, another mentor, George
Prouty, head of Munsingwear industrial relations, took a liking to
Dan and kept him apprised of the changing trends in business. Dan
was on his way in the world of business.
Time to back
up just a little bit here. Catherine Sulzbach was also a student
at the U of M and active in the Wesley Foundation on campus. So was
Dan, and they met at a foundation dance, started dating and were married
right after Dan graduated on March 24, 1951. Catherine became an elementary
is blessed with five children, Mary Lou Tarvers of Duluth, Dan, Jr.,
of Eau Claire, Wis., Martha Haessly of Becker, Minn., David of Duluth
and Sarah Zarbock of Menomonie, Wis. Dan and Catherine have eight
grandchildren. That's the family tree to the present time. His five
children have been an inspiration and example to Dan.
at Munsingwear took off and he was sent to Alabama to test prospective
employees for a new plant.
He was now
heavily involved in the world of business, dealing with legal, personnel
and industrial relations issues. A decision was in the making. Dan
reasoned that going to law school would make sense. He left Munsingwear
and enrolled in law school, again at the U of M, and he used the G.I.
Bill for most of the tuition. There was no spare money, really. Catherine
was teaching school, and the couple lived in a cramped apartment in
Dinky Town, just off campus. He was facing a three year course and
tightening the belt became a way of life for the young couple.
Now, some more
mentors and friends. Wilbur Korfhage, pastor at the Wesley Foundation
and First Methodist Church in Minneapolis was very special to Dan
and Cathy. Dan started and was manager of the Arrow Inn Cooperative
on campus at the First Methodist Church. The coop served 250 people
a day and students paid $8 a week to eat three meals a day.
Dan did other
jobs, too, including work at parking lots during the summer break
and Catherine worked for the city recreation department, It was a
very busy time for the young couple and it kept bread and drink on
period, Dan was an Assistant Pastor at North Methodist Church. He
preached and worked with kids up to college age. Dan graduated in
1954 with a Juri Doctor of Law degree. He continued his education
by earning a Master's Degree in Psychology, in 1956. Again, the influence
of two mentors, Bill Lockhart, dean of the University School of Law,
and Don Patterson, school of psychology, were always around to pick
up the broken pieces, apply the glue and keep Dan on course.
there his legal expertise expanded into corporate law and he came
to Duluth to practice law. He became a legal specialist for the timber
was growing and so was his diversity in the field of law. In addition
to his work for the Minnesota Timber Producers Association, he represented
Arrowhead Grocery, an area wholesale grocery firm, Jeno Paulucci and
his various interests, as well as some retail grocers in the area.
He was licensed
to practice law in three states. His diverse legal career has spanned
client representation in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Michigan Upper
Peninsula. For over 22 years, he has been extensively involved with
the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans throughout
the United States and Canada.
Dan was elected
for two terms on the Duluth School Board. For four years, he was employed
by three denominations to direct a program at UMD where he also taught
business law and governmental regulations of business for 18 years.
But there is
another side of Dan Mundt, his devotion to God, not only as a lay
preacher but as the long-term chair of the Glen Avon Presbyterian
Church Legacy and Endowment Fund. This organization deals with a number
of Christian related challenges throughout the community.
Dan has preached
over 500 sermons throughout the area. Through the Glen Avon Presbyterian
Church Legacy and Endowment Fund, he is involved in seminars, financial
scholarships for ministerial candidates, helps with student loans
a former Pastor at Glen Avon Presbyterian Church, was a strong example
and mentor. All this didn't happen without the guidance and patience
of a number of people throughout Dan's life called mentors or special
friends. Heading the list, of course, is his wife, Catherine, whose
patience and continuing support was the mortar in the foundation.
Dan is the president of the Northern Bible Society with worldwide
connections in the area of non-denominational Christian outreach.
Dan has been
a Duluth Rotarian since 1961 and often gives the invocation at the
beginning of the program. He always starts with the statement, "The
word for today is (blank)," and then brings into focus God's connection
with the topic of the day.
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