Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Longtime Libby teacher and coach retires

| June 30, 2006 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

After teaching special education and math in Libby Public Schools for 32 years, Rod Tempel has retired.

"Those are going to be hard shoes to fill. That turkey's been here a long time," said John Kratofil, director of special services for the district. Kratofil in 1974 served on the committee that hired Tempel fresh out of college.

In about a month, Tempel and his wife, Joanna, a lab technician for nearly 20 years at Libby Clinic, will move to Lakeside 10 miles from Kalispell. They've put their Libby home on the market.

One reason for the move is that after three years, their daughter, Jessamyn, continues to take gymnastic classes in Kalispell two to three times a week. Two years ago, the 10-year-old won a state title for floor exercises and last year placed fourth out of 48 all around.

Over the years, Tempel has coached gymnastics, football, wrestling and track for the school district. He was the Loggers head track coach during his 26 to 28 years with the team.

Tempel also served on the board of directors for Achievements Inc., a non-profit agency in Libby that works with mentally and developmentally disabled adults.

Kratofil remembers his first meeting with Tempel like it was yesterday.

"When he came here, I remember him very distinctly," said Kratofil. "He was wearing thick black glasses, a skinny tie and a God awful green sports blazer. By one interview, you could tell he had a genuine interest in working with kids."

A former teacher, assistant high school principal and athletic director, Kratofil has worked with Tempel for most of his tenure.

"He's just a good all-around person," said Kratofil. "We will miss him."

Superintendent Kirby Maki will recommend someone within the district for Tempel's teaching job. He did not want to name the candidate yet.

"Rod will be missed," Maki said. "He's been here for a long, long time. He's done a good job in special education. We depend on him for a lot of things. His easy-going positive personality seems easy enough to fill, but it won't be."

A native of Joplin, Mont., Rod plans to find a job in Kalispell.

"I grew up on a farm so I can do about anything," he said.

The Tempels are thinking about buying Rod's father's home in Lakeside. John Tempel, 83, is a World War II veteran who landed on Omaha Beach.

The couple will miss Libby.

"I would like to thank the community of Libby," Rod Tempel said. "I've traveled a lot and don't think I have ever been in a place better than Libby. It's just a great place to raise kids."

He also thanked Roger Morris, editor and publisher of The Western News, for supporting Libby sports and the community.

"I feel he's been far and away the best editor we've ever had here as far as support goes," Tempel said. "I appreciate what he's done for this town."