goodbye, Mr. Laudick

Two lines in a paper from the next town over. I guess that’s what happens when you teach other people’s children instead of having your own.

David Laudick was my junior and senior English teacher, my forensics and debate coach, my drama director, and my quiz bowl coach at Scott City High School. He was well read, cultured, formal, slightly imperious. You didn’t screw around in his class — lazy kids hated him. He was sarcastic, difficult, prickly, and fond of terrible puns. He didn’t hesitate to humiliate the unprepared, myself included. God, I loved him for it.

My junior year two seniors from our debate squad took State and my senior year I took State in Forensics in “Prose Interpretation,” something that perhaps you’d have to be a nerdy kid from a small town to appreciate.  Certainly no one will be remaking Hoosiers to commemorate it. Yet it was the first time anyone from SCHS (strictly division 1A, student body: 200? maybe?) had achieved such a thing. That’s because Mr. Laudick drove us the way perhaps only a small-town coach of a small-time activity can. He taped our speeches, delivered exhaustive critiques; ran evening work sessions and paid for the pizza to fuel them out of his pocket; had gatherings at holidays at his home where he showed off his excellent stereo and prog rock collection — oh Mr. Laudick, you weren’t a demonstrative man but I wish I’d hugged you for all of that, at least once.

The last time I visited him he was walking with a cane; diabetes had taken one of his lower legs and when I couldn’t hide my surprise or sadness he brushed them away with his customary dignity. Did he know what he meant to me? I tried to say, but for all the beautiful words he gave me it was never easy to find the ones to tell him that I loved him. I am so sorry for that. He deserves better than some shitty two-line obituary. At the very least, it should have included the word “teacher.” He was one of the toughest — and best — I ever had.

— Melissa

2 thoughts on “goodbye, Mr. Laudick

  1. Melissa, As a very close friend of Dave Laudick’s for over 40 years, I KNOW he would have dearly loved hearing your comments about him. He was like a brother to me, and I am missing him more and more in the short time he has left us. David was a special person, a dedicated person. He would do anything for those he knew. I think I was the last to speak to him–around noon on Monday, April 13. He sounded very weak, saying he had not eaten hardly anything for the past couple of days. I encouraged him to see a doctor immediately, which he obviously did not heed. Since I live in Kansas City (Lenexa, actually), I could not immediately drive to see him. Now, of course, I wish I had. He said he was going to drive himself to the evening speech class he was teaching and make sure his students would complete the final on their own since he did not feel like teaching. Since that time, I have found out there was no class that evening due to Easter holiday. However, he had probably forgotten that fact due to his health. He later died in his easy chair, watching TV. Very likely it was a massive heart attack, but we shall never know since there was no autopsy, and he was cremated. David had many plans, so I know he was not prepared to go yet. He had just had a large garage built next to his house. He called it his “barn,” and he was very proud of it, and busy decorating the inside. He had bought a repro of an antique Coke machine, which he stocked with soft drinks and beer. Friends in Scott had already begun stopping by to partake of it and David’s generous hospitality. David was also looking forward to warmer weather when he could again climb on his motorcycle and cruise the byways of Scott County. I had planned on visiting him this summer, and likewise he was planning a visit with me in KC. Life will never be the same without this kind, gentle, funny (we shared a love of puns) man. By the way, we met while students at Emporia State at an evening speech class wherein we strangers had to introduce each other via a speech. We remained close friends thereafter. If you’d like to read more of an obituary, and maybe leave a message, please link to:

    Thanks for your kind words, Melissa. David deserves them. ~Steve

    • Steve, thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I looked for a better memorial for Mr. Laudick but couldn’t find one and I am very glad that small notice was not the only one for him. It’s wonderful that his life was so full and rich and that he had good friends like you, though it doesn’t surprise me given the kindness and generosity you mentioned. I am so sorry that you are feeling badly about not going to see him; it’s a natural regret even if logically you know there was absolutely no way to predict what would happen. It makes me happy that you think he would have liked what I said. I just wish I’d found a way to say it clearly to him while he was still here.

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