Newsletter Winter 2014 Shawn Mintek

Remembering Shawn Mintek

Shawn Mintek, PhD '77, passed away at home on September 23, 2013, at age 64 from aggressive prostate cancer. After earning his doctorate from the University of Washington's Philosophy Department, Shawn began a 27-year career as a teacher at Seattle's Franklin High School. From 1986 to 2013, he taught Senior Humanities and Math to hundreds of students. By all accounts, he was an amazing teacher, who inspired many of his students to continue to pursue the study of philosophy while in college. Many of these students came here to the University of Washington where they went on to major or minor in philosophy.

UW Alumni Noah Purcell '02 and Jasmin Weaver '02 were both inspired by Shawn to study philosophy. They had this to say about their former high school teacher:

"Dr. Mintek was a brilliant, unforgettable teacher. He introduced hundreds of his students to philosophy in a way that inspired us (and many others) to want to learn more. He forced his students to think, write, and speak clearly, and his lessons stick with us to this day. He was also incredibly generous with his time and attention, devoting his lunch hour and before school to leading tutoring sessions for students who needed extra help in the math classes, which he also taught. And he pushed all his students to do their best work. By his influence on his students, he certainly has left a lasting impact on our community for the better."

Shawn is described by those who loved him best as "a person of great integrity, with a gently irreverent sense of humor and a flair for performance. His roles were various: devoted husband and father; gifted, dedicated teacher; scholar, philosopher, mathematician; baseball player, fan, umpire; ship-scaler, shop steward; avid paleontologist, bird lover; punster, poet, lover of sonnets and haiku; movie buff, Deadhead, devotee of the unusual and exotic music; vegetarian, pacifist, recovered alcoholic; critical thinker, iconoclast, curmudgeon; and so much more."

He is survived by his wife Liz Ungar Mintek, alumni of the philosophy department, MA '86, and son Leo, and also by his 'Philosophers on Holiday' study group ( and hundreds of Franklin High students and alumni.

The Department of Philosophy will dearly miss him.

Photo Collage of Shawn Mintek

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