Dana Minard in his Culinary Arts classroom. Photo submitted by James Heintz.

Dana Minard in his Culinary Arts classroom. Photo submitted by James Heintz.

SHS staff, students remember Dana Minard

A beloved teacher, mentor and friend, Minard will be much missed by students and fellow staff alike.

Teacher Dana Minard was an influential part of the staff at Sequim High School who will be missed by those who knew him, his students and coworkers said in recent days.

Minard died on April 21 at age 54, from complications of diabetes.

Born in San Diego and spending much of his life in southern California, Minard had careers in screenwriting, comedy and as a restaurateur before he became a teacher. He went on to teach both culinary arts and special education at the high school and helped coach the football team.

“(Minard) taught us so many more things than culinary arts,” Sequim High teacher Jim Heintz said.

“He came to school with a smile on he face and a quick wit and positive attitude no matter what challenges he had to face. He taught us how to fight for life and how to love life.”

Students remember Minard best for his passion and humor in the classroom and his willingness to help and mentor those taking his classes. From cooking advice to life lessons to just making his classroom available as a quiet place for students to eat their lunch, Minard always did what he could to improve the lives of those around him, they said.

“Mr. Minard didn’t take anyone’s crap,” SHS senior Caleb Dumott said. “He would listen to anything that you had to say and would instantly call you out if he thought you were full of it. But if you ever needed someone to be there for you, or if he knew you were going through something, he made sure you were OK.”

Dumott said he also fondly remembers Minard’s reaction to finding out that he had been cast as the male lead in “Legally Blonde,” the high school operetta this spring. Minard “lit up” with pride and told Dumott that he’d “better get tickets lined up” because he had to see it, the student said.

“Honestly, Mr. Minard (and his support) is a big part of why I’m still in high school,” Dumott said. “He cared about his students as if they were his own kids.”

The senior also recalled how almost everything Minard did in the classroom linked back to his daughter, Maddy.

Fellow SHS teacher Jon Eekhoff spoke about Minard’s focus on helping his students as well, recalling how committed he was to helping his students read and write when he was a special education English teacher.

Minard leaned heavily on his experience in Los Angeles as a screenwriter to find ways to help engage and educate his students, Eekoff said, but that “he never showed off what he had done. It was always about the students, not about him.”

Minard’s background as a special education teacher reaches back throughout his career; he taught special education at several schools in California before moving to Sequim. He shifted to teaching culinary arts in recent years, though Dumott noted that his teacher “showed us that cooking is about more than just the food itself. It’s about the art, the passion, and the experience of it.”

As much as anything else, though, Minard will be remembered for his sense of humor, Dumott said.

“He was hilarious,” Dumott said. “He thought he was such a comedian, and he was really funny. It was part of how he showed he cared … and if he saw all the people crying their eyes out at his funeral, he would have laughed about it.”

Eekhoff echoed the sentiment about Minard’s sense of humor.

“He always loved to laugh and have fun,” Eekhoff said. “That’s part of what made him great.”

A memorial service for Minard was held May 4 in Sequim. He is survived by his wife, Kimberly; daughter, Maddy; father, Chris, of Sequim; sister, Carmen (Jeff) Moseley of Brentwood, Tennessee; nieces, Brette and Darcy; nephews, Chad and Mike.

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