After more than 52 years of teaching at Simpson College, professor of chemistry Dr. Cliff Meints passed away in his home Monday, Sept. 5. He was 81.
“Dr. Cliff Meints was a dedicated and beloved faculty member at Simpson College,” said Steve Griffith, senior vice president and academic dean. “Generations, literally hundreds if not thousands, of Simpson students studied with him over more than 50 years. He was a driving force in science education at Simpson College for almost a third of the college’s existence. His sudden passing is a shock to all of us and a loss for the college.”
Ron Warnet, professor of chemistry and head of the natural science division, worked with Meints for more than four decades and developed a close relationship with him during those years.
“Dr. Meints and I worked together for 42 years,” Warnet said. “He was an absolutely incredible person to work with, and I owe my success of teaching to him. He was a fair and supportive mentor, and I know that there are others on this campus that would agree with me.”
During his time at Simpson, Meints taught classes that ranged from algebra to microbiology and forensics, but he always claimed that chemistry was his favorite.
No matter the subject matter, Meints had a passion for what he was teaching.
“I don’t remember what the subject was, but Meints was talking about something and he jumped up on the front table in Jordan Lecture Hall,” said 2011 Simpson alumnus David Turner.
In 2010, Meints cut back his course load to a part-time professor in order have time to volunteer.
“I’m already 15 years past the legal retirement age, and if something were to happen to me, the school wouldn’t have to scramble as much to find a replacement for my classes since I’ll only be part time,” Meints said in a previous interview with The Simpsonian. “I might try to find some kind of a volunteering group to use up some of my free time. The only two that have occurred to have volunteering possibilities would be a blood bank volunteer or a volunteer at a hospital.”
Senior biology major Jordan Vorrie viewed him not only as a professor, but as a mentor too. In his sophomore year Vorrie had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for Meints’ Chemistry 101 and 102 courses.
“I really liked working with him,” Vorrie said. “He was always so down to earth with me. And he didn’t have a problem talking about anything. The college is definitely going to miss having him around.”
Simpson College President John Byrd agrees with Vorrie that the college will miss having him around.
“When you have a faculty member who was here as long as Dr. Meints was, it’s someone who’s left their mark on this campus,” Byrd said. “He (Meints) was here for a third of this college’s history, affecting thousands of students and many of his colleagues. He was just one of those people who made a difference in the lives of others.”
Another thing that students will miss is his daily work attire and humor.
“The one thing people will always remember is him always wearing those funky bowties; I don’t think he ever had the same one,” Turner said. “He had an interesting humor. I never really knew if he was joking or not.”
Griffith agreed that the students and faculty will remember Meints.
“Dr. Meints was the epitome of teacher (and) scholar, and he will be long-remembered by his students, his colleagues, and his friends at Simpson College,” Griffith said. “We share our sympathy with his wife, Lita and family.”
A memorial will be held today from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. in Smith Chapel for those who would like to come remember Meints by sharing stories and praying.