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The Muncie Star - June 21, 1992
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." - II Cor. 3:17
'The only thing I had to give them was the work ethic,' dad says
By Judith Valos - For The Muncie Star
A strong work ethic and the knowledge that education is the key to open doors are two of the binding threads that establish the bond of Dick Minniear and his three sons, Rick Steve and Dave.
Tempered with threads of discipline, humor, understanding and love, the relationship between the men now extends beyond that of father and sons to one of friendship, role model and business partner.
"When Rick and Steve were babies and I was returning home from Vietnam, I thought about what I had to offer my sons," Dick said. "The only thing I had to give them was the work ethic that I had been raised with. I felt that as long as they possessed that, they could always do something with their lives."
Growing up as a child of educators, Dick believed education was the one thing he had to fall back on, so he and his wife, Judi, packed up their two babies and moved to Muncie so Dick could attend Ball State University to get his teacher's license.
"It was not an easy time in our lives," Dick recalled. "Judi worked at the administration building of Ball State University, and I went to school and worked at a service station - up to 60 hours a week - to support us.
"As soon as I finished school, I went to work for Muncie Community Schools as a teacher, and Judi went to Ball State. During that time, I continued to work on cars and at one point opened a filling station of my own in The Village. I spent 3 years teaching during the day and operating the station in the evenings.
"But the hours were too long and my time with my family was too short. So I sold the station and went back to working days as a teacher, and in the evenings, I did car repair work on my own and for a friend at his station."
Shortly after Judi graduated from Ball State with a teaching degree, their third son, Dave, was born. With both Dick and Judi working as teachers in the Muncie school system and still taking classes to complete master's degrees, Dick continued his part-time car repair work.
"Watching my parents work as hard as they did had a real impact on all of us," Steve said. "Rick and I both remember the days of living in the Ball State trailer park and watching Mom and Dad work and study constantly.
"There was no doubt that once we were through with high school we would go on to college. It was never really stated that it was something we had to do, but with an example like that in front of you, that was a path that all of us knew we would take."
As the boys were growing up, the example of their father's values and ethics became a solid base for them to build their own lives.
"Dad was strict - there was no doubt about that - and he was always quick to get on us," Rick said. "Yet he always sat down and talked through whatever the problem was, after we had cooled off, and he never hesitated to apologize if he was wrong.
"There was fairness in his dealings with us, and what he told us always rang true. He taught me that you have to do the job at hand - get done what needed to be done before you played.
"But he also taught us that if you help out and do what is expected of you, it will come back to you in many ways. Just watching my dad handle people that he worked with and for, I learned about fairness and being ethical.
"I also came away from my childhood with a set of values that I will pass on to my own children."
All three sons began their own work at an early age, Rick and Steve both had paper routes, and Dave mowed yards at age 10. They also worked evenings repairing cars with their dad.
"Our motto in the family was working," Dave said. "That's what we've always done. Dad showed us in everything he did that he was more interested in his family than anything else.
"He always worked so that we could have the things we wanted and needed and if he was working extra hours, we needed to help. It was clear from the beginning that Mom and Dad had the same school hours that we did, and in the evenings, after school work and activities were finished, we didn't just sit around, we needed to be working.
"It would have been hard to just sit in the house and watch TV when your dad was out there working on cars to provide everything he could for us," Dave said.
Growing up in an atmosphere that stressed what might be considered "old-fashioned" values, Dick gave all three sons the inspiration and desire to set high education and career goals.
Rick, 29, is a physical therapist in Palm Harbor, Fla. He and his wife have a 2-year-old daughter.
Steve, 28, just completed his master's degree at Ball State and works at Borg-Warner. He and his wife are parents of a 3-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter.
Dave, 21, is working on a degree in business management in his junior year at Ball State.
The relationship between the father and sons is also the base of their newest family venture, Dadsons Collision Centre, a car repair shop on McGalliard Road.
"Dave has always expressed an interest in owning his own business," Steve said. "His education plan and career goals have always been pretty definite in his own mind.
"We've always all worked together doing mechanical work and body work on cars and actually starting our own business seemed like the best way to help Dave achieve his goal."
The building that houses the business was the place where Dick and the boys worked over the years on cars for money and for pleasure. Originally just a tool shed with a dirt floor, it was transformed last summer into a body shop with Dick, Steve and Dave gutting the building and starting over.
"We begged, borrowed and rented equipment, put in sewage and water lines, installed all the equipment, painted and decorated it ourselves," Dick said. "Steve put together a 55-page business plan that allowed us the financing to take this on. It has been a tremendous effort from all of us to get it up and going."
Dave is the only one of the three working full time at the business. Dick joins him at the end of the school day, and Steve spends evenings there after his days at Borg-Warner.
While they all put in long days and nights to make the business a success and there is much pride on everyone's part as to what they have accomplished, the idea of family is still the underlying bond that ties them together.
"Family has always been the most important thing in our lives," Dick said, "and while Judi and I have both tried hard to instill good values in our sons, there is a certain amount of luck that comes into play when you are raising a family.
"The flip side is also having a mother like Judi. I was always very firm in my beliefs in raising the kids and evidently they bought into it, but when I was too tough on them - and sometimes I was - Judi was the one who picked up the pieces. She was always there when things didn't go well - for all of us.
"I have to give her a ton of credit for the way our sons have turned out. She is definitely the glue that holds the family bond together."
According to Steve, that bond is also directly attributed to his father.