GRAND ISLAND --, 81, died Tuesday ( May 9, 2006) at St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island.
Wanda was born in McCloud, Okla. on Dec. 26, 1924. She never forgave her mother's d0ctor for administering medications that would delay her labor until after Christmas. A birthday shared with the Christ child would be a memorable one, of this she was certain. As a child, she attended many different elementary schools, but completed her senior high education in Canyon, Texas at the age of 16. Nobody is entirely certain of the number of schools she attended through the elementary years, but the number is guesstimated to be upwards of 18.
Her higher education began in Trinidad, Colo., at Trinidad Junior College. She was initiated into the Phi Theta Kappa Honorary Fraternity in May of 1942, with an initiation and membership fee of $2.25. Wanda received her Associates Degree in June of 1943 -- with honors, of course. Over the course of the years she was also honored with lifetime memberships in these educational fraternities: Phi Theta Kappa, Delta Kappa Gamma, and Phi Delta Kappa Honors Fraternities. "Just give me the keys," and they did.
She then attended Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa with her course study being aeronautical engineering. Her title was Curtiss-Wright Engineering Cadette. At this time the cadettes were manufacturing attack bombers for the Army. Upon completion of the coursework, Wanda then moved to Buffalo, N.Y., where she continued as a "draftsperson" designing war planes used during World War II. One of her projects included the famous "camelback" used during the Berlin Airlift. At the end of the war, as the men came home from the European theater, she refused the job offered her with Curtiss-Wright because it was in a lesser skilled capacity than what she had provided for the aeronautical mogul during the war effort.
During World War I she played on a minor league women's softball team. Wanda was a leftie and had a propensity for line drives up the third baseline. Her other hobbies included tennis, as well as posing with her tennis racquet and flirting.
Wanda headed back to Colorado, to the University of Denver where she completed her undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Arts in June 1946. Upon completion of her bachelors degree, she attended Iliff School of Theology, where she met her future husband, the Rev. Erwin E. Mindt. They were married in December 1946 after Erwin's successful completion of his degree in divinity.
For the first two years of their marriage, they served at Bethany Methodist Church in Denver. It was a German Church and the sermons were delivered in German, so Wanda never quite knew what Erwin was preaching. They then had the churches in Elm Creek, Williamsburg, and Elizabeth Valley in Nebraska from 1949-1951. St. Paul and Fairdale was their next assignment from 1951- 1953. Elwood, Gosper and Smithfield for three years from 1953 to 1956. Clatonia and Wilber combined parish from 1956-1963. Friend and Dorchester combined parish from 1963 to 1965. In Doniphan, the combined parish was Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren from 1965-1966. While Erwin was on sabbatical from the church, the family relocated to Ogallala where Wanda served as the director of religious education for the United Methodist Church from 1965- 1969.
In June of 1969, the family moved to Benkelman, where Erwin died in March 0f 1970. and Wanda remained until leaving her home of 25 years. From the time of his death until the new minister came in June, Wanda served as pastor of the churches in Max and Benkelman while teaching full-time for the Benkelman schools. During her husband's tenure as minister of the various churches he served in, Wanda acted as youth leader, member and leader of the Methodist Circles of Women, taught church school, and served in any other capacity required of a minister's wife at the time.
She acted as a laboratory instructor in youth work for the Conference in Nebraska, as well as in Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa and Arkansas. Wanda taught Christian workers schools and literature previews. In addition, she taught at the Youth Missions School for WSCS at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln and was director of the Youth Mission Tour to the northeast and southeast. She was a counselor at youth camps from 1949 to 1969, including the first camp at Camp Comeca near Cozad in 1950. Her firstborn, Ronald, was the "camp baby." Wanda worked in Vacation Church School Institutes in Nebraska for the Nebraska Council of Churches, as well as serving on many committees of Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska.
In addition, she served on local, regional, and state mental health committees for more than a decade beginning in the '80s. Instrumental as an advocate for mental health, she also pioneered the now existing Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Forces present in the State of Nebraska, as well as serving as director of the task force for many years in Benkelman.
After earning her educational doctorate in administration, curriculum and instruction in 1985 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she retired from teaching in 1987. She was awarded the "Award of Excellence in Classroom Teaching" by the Nebraska State Board of Education on Dec. 12, 1986 and received "Teacher of the Year" for 1986-87 by the Dundy County Education Association. During the last years of her tenure in Benkelman, she served as pastor of the American Baptist Church for three years and for nearly five years at the Presbyterian Church, also in Benkelman. Wanda was always happiest in the capacity of service. She also worked in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on the local presbytery, synod and national level for 14 years including serving on the Churchwide Coordinating Team for Presbyterian Women.
On Dec. 4, 1990, she became the first person in the State of Nebraska to complete lay pastor training for the Presbyterian Church under its new guidelines for lay persons. Overachieving still. After moving to North Platte in 1994, she served in various capacities in many churches in Western Nebraska, including Sutherland, Paxton, Grant, Keystone and Lemoyne. She was always happy to deliver a sermon -- ask any of her kids.
In addition to the aforementioned, she was inducted into the Official Navy of the State of Nebraska in April 1981 by Gov. Charles Thone. She was active in the Upper Room Walk to Emmaus and shared this experience with her granddaughter, Jennifer.
As an educator she was a lifetime member of the National Education Association, as well as the Nebraska State Education Association. Wanda served in an advisory capacity to the Nebraska Commission on the Status of Women for many years.
Wanda Goodwin Mindt was preceded in death by her husband, the Rev. Erwin E. Mindt; her parents, Herbert L. and Pearl Goodwin; and brother Jack Goodwin.
She is survived in death by her son, Ronald E. Mindt of Lincoln, daughter Kaye Mindt Long of Grand Island, granddaughter, Jennifer N. Long and great-granddaughter Kayla A. Long. Daughter, Cathy A. Mindt and husband, Russell Knight of Keystone and children Kellen and Evan of Lincoln, Abby of Kearney and Maggie of Keystone. Daughter, Lt. Col. Pamela S. Mindt, currently serving our country in Iraq. A brother, the Rev. Bob Goodwin of Neosho, Mo., and numerous nieces and nephews.
Wanda Goodwin Mindt was cremated with arrangements handled by All Faiths Funeral Chapel of Grand Island.
A special thanks to Draucker Funeral Home of Ogallala for their assistance. As she requested, there will be no memorial or funeral service. Memorials may be directed by the family to the Grand Island Crisis Center, the United Congregational Church and the Association of Child Abuse Prevention.
Cards may be directed to Cathy Mindt, 814 W. First, Suite A, Ogallala, NE 69153.