Death of a former teacher floods the memory bank

Death of a former teacher floods the memory

By Eric Becker

The Write Team

CARLINVILLE (April 5, 2018) – Heard about the passing of Don Hartlaub the other day.

Now, those reading this may or may not recognize the name Don Hartlaub, but he was a very recognizable face in the realms of high school girls basketball and track and field. Some of you in Macoupin County may recall the name, I’m sure you have.

I went to high school in Riverton,   and Mr. Hartlaub was my health teacher my sophomore year. Gee whiz that sounds like a long time ago, 1988-89 is the time period to which I am referring. I really am getting old, folks.

To put it mildly, I disliked high school, but got through it. Teachers like Mr. Hartlaub made it much more tolerable. One day in class, he got out a cigarette and one person got a chance to smoke in class as part of a health assignment. (Note: It was not me who smoked – gross!).

I thought that was kind of ‘outside the box’ kind of teaching, but I suppose it was effective to some like myself. I have never smoked a cigarette and have had no desire to do so any point in my life, so my lungs and I have Mr. Hartlaub’s lesson to thank for that.

He was more than a teacher. He was a great coach. A great father. A great man. Plain and simple.

How do you want to be remembered? Mr. Hartlaub had the right mindset. The right set of teaching skills and the right set of personality  skills.

He is noted for getting the girls’ Sangamon County basketball tournament started in 1993 as a way of promoting girls’ basketball in the Springfield area, but was more noted as a track and field coach, which he was coach for many years, including while I was attending Riverton.

He leaves behind a wife, two children and seven grandchildren. His son, Brian, was a successful basketball player and track competitor during his high school days. Winning a state championship in the hurdles in 1999.

But just hearing the news – I had no idea he had been diagnosed with brain cancer just a short time earlier – was sad to hear.

Good people leave this earth every day. Many have no idea how much of an impact they had on people’s lives. Mr. Hartlaub did more than leave a good impression on people. He earned the admiration of many who were taught or coached by him.

I was never coached by him, but I was taught by him. Learned a lot from him. I’ve never ranked any of my favorite teachers of all time,  but he would make the short list, to be sure.

Did not realize he was an avid Cubs fan. Which makes the 2016 championship season much more sweet, that people like Mr. Hartlaub could indeed witness the Chicago Cubs win it all. (The Cubs are still the last National League team to win the World Series, which is strange to say the least).

It’s a shame to lose such a good man, but we have the memories to look back on over the years, whether you had him as a coach, a teacher or simply a friend. He’ll be missed, for sure.