On October 10, students were notified of the passing of a beloved professor. The day before, October 9, Professor John Mingus passed away. In 1989 the college welcomed the previous actor, high school teacher, and college professor with arms wide open and now the Randolph-Macon community mourns him with heavy hearts. “It is important to know [that Mingus was an actor] because, to all who knew him, John Mingus was always lit by some sort of spotlight. He was effortlessly and easily the center of any room he chose to enter,” senior Derek Dittmar said.
Before arriving at Randolph-Macon, Professor Mingus taught at Wesley College in Delaware for six years and spent another 25 years teaching in the Chesterfield County Public School system. Professor Mingus originally came to Randolph-Macon as a speech professor in the Department of the Arts. Since his arrival, he transferred over to the Communication Studies department and was most known for his public speaking classes. Mingus was also co-director of the Franklin Debating Society.
“He had a passion for speaking and a passion for teaching. His energy in class was contagious, and he made speaking in front of peers comfortable. I am forever grateful for his dedication to my public speaking skills, and I am better off because of him,” senior Kristin Kunz said. Not only was Professor Mingus an outstanding teacher, but he also supported students in and out of the classroom by giving them valuable everyday skills and acting as someone to confide in.
“He helped me realize that talking in front of people isn’t scary and he was always someone to talk to about anything going on,” alumni Jordan McConnell said.
As soon as the news broke, students took to social media to express their condolences. Many cited that he was one of the best professors they had during their time at Randolph-Macon. Others chose to remember his sense of humor. Some simply said that they will miss him.
Although he worked with students dealing with public speaking and internships, his true love was for forensics. “I feel the best way to remember him is to use the things he taught me in our time together. It’s rather startling how many tricks for Forensics and Debate can be applied directly to living a good life,” Dittmar shared. Professor Mingus earned his B.A. degree in Speech and Dra-ma at Lambuth College and his M.A. degree in Directing & Dramatic Literature at University of Delaware.
Professor Mingus, your wealth of knowledge, your eagerness to expand the knowledge of those you came into contact with, and your sincere passion for everyone at Randolph-Macon will be missed more than words can describe. May you rest in peace. “People don’t laugh enough anymore. People don’t smile. John was always so generous with his laughter; he didn’t hoard it. It wasn’t a commodity with an expiration date. The water table line was non-existent on the well of his laughter, for it was always able to be filled again and again. There was no bottom. I will miss his laugh the most,” Dittmar said.
“English and Communication Studies Professor Ted Sheckels, who worked closely with Mingus throughout the years, says that R-MC’s success in forensics has depended significantly on Mingus’ expertise in informative, persuasive and humorous speaking, as well as oral interpretation.” Expressions of condolence can be sent to Professor Mingus’s wife, Ms. Barrett Brown, at 8712 Old Spring Rd., Richmond, VA, 23235.
-Madison Guidry ’16, Editor-In-Chief