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     Class act:  1) A person or thing of admirable style, quality, competence. – 2) Dean Minder

The “dean” of South Dakota sportswriters turns 90 on Thursday.

Dean Minder, who told sports fans what they wanted to know for more than 37 years at The Daily Republic in Mitchell, covered many of the state’s biggest events. Even today, after retiring in 2001, he retains a keen interest in sports and, of course, his favorite, baseball.

His name is on the press box at Cadwell Park in Mitchell, reflecting his important contributions.

He was secretary of the Mitchell Baseball Association for many years, and was named Sportswriter of the Year in South Dakota in 1990 and again in 1997.

He was named to the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

All of this, and father to five children and a happy 50-year marriage to Helen, who passed away 10 years ago.

And there’s more, too, much more.

Dean taught sixth grade for 33 years in the Mitchell School District. He took a three-year sabbatical in 1967-70 to be the sports editor at The Daily Republic before returning to full-time teaching and covering sports some evenings and on weekends.

I’m not quite sure how he did it.

What I do know is this: Dean Minder unknowingly gave me my start in the newspaper business 45 years ago. I was knocking on doors of the state’s daily newspapers, and the editor at Huron was willing to give me a tryout. He told me to cover a basketball tournament and mail my stories to him.

When I got home from the tournament and began to study my notes, a sense of panic set in. I had covered sports for my college newspaper, but there was much more at stake now. Then, I saw The Daily Republic on the kitchen table. I picked up the sports section and read Dean Minder’s account of two or three of the games.

No, I didn’t plagiarize Dean’s work. But I studied it, and then wrote my own stories. You might say Dean, though we had not met, was my writing coach in absentia. The Huron editor thought the stories were good enough for me to land my first newspaper job.

Thanks, Dean.  And I and your family and many friends will join you on Saturday at Brady Health and Rehab in Mitchell from 1-3 to help send you off toward your 91st.

April 5, 2017