After a lengthy and meaningful life, the gift of earthly life and the promise of eternal life is to be celebrated. This past Saturday, at Robbins Memorial Chapel on the campus of Davis & Elkins College, we did just that.
Dr. A. Jean Minnick passed from this life to the next at age 94. Eulogized by Dr. Peter Vial as a servant-leader, Jean influenced students for 35 years as a professor and left an indelible mark on her beloved Davis & Elkins College.
From 1963 to 1998 Dr. Minnick taught in the Department of Health, Sport, and Movement Sciences, serving as department chair for many of those years. For 17 years, she coached the Senator’s Field Hockey Team that competed in Division I in the NCAA. Her career record of 145-21-14 was remarkable, and D&E notched numerous wins against some of the largest universities in the country, including Ohio State. Under her leadership, D&E Field Hockey enjoyed 12 undefeated regular seasons, three Midwest championships, and placed third in the NCAA Division I National Championships. She was selected for membership in the D&E Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
So many of her former players remained lifelong friends to “Doc” Minnick. The outpouring of love and respect from them, on social media and elsewhere, serves as a real tribute to her life and legacy.
In the fall of 2017, Jean bestowed upon me the honor of publicly announcing her estate gift of $1,000,000 to establish the College’s sixth endowed academic chair to be named the A. Jean Minnick Chair in Sport Science. As I was unable to convince Jean to join me on stage for the announcement at our Founder’s Day Celebration, I remember walking down from the stage to her front row seat in Harper-McNeeley Auditorium to publicly thank her. The sustained standing ovation from the crowd caused her face to beam and left no doubt that her life and career had left its mark upon Davis & Elkins College.
In addition to establishing the endowed chair, Jean was adamant that the first professor named to be the “A. Jean Minnick Professor in Sport Science” be Dr. Mary Ann Deluca. Mary Ann was a former student of Dr. Minnick’s at D&E, and says Jean steadfastly believed in her and encouraged her to become the person and the professor that she is today.
Passion for teaching, lifelong influence upon students, and an unrelenting pursuit of excellence are the hallmarks of the truly iconic faculty members who have served D&E throughout its long and distinguished history. With her legacy firmly established, Dr. A. Jean Minnick has earned her place among this distinguished group.
Traveling life’s journey brings us into contact with people who make an impact upon us and mold the type of person we become. For those fortunate enough to spend a few years of their lives on the D&E campus, their life journey is forever altered and enriched by faculty, staff and students. Dr. Minnick’s legacy lives on in her students, and through her endowed academic chair that will continue to bring influencers to bear on young lives.
Well done, good and faithful servant. For Jean and for each of us, the journey continues….
Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College