As a business education teacher at South High School in Minneapolis, Richard Kormanik spent 35 years instructing students on topics like accounting and stock market investing.
But the investing class was serious business. Kormanik started teaching the class using $100,000 that had been donated by a successful investor who had gone to South High.
In six years, Kormanik and the students had turned the gift into a portfolio worth $300,000, enough to help fund student scholarships. That success led the donor, Robert Kommerstad, to give another $100,000 for the students to work with.
“He got the students actively involved in doing their homework and they were pretty successful,” said Steve Lindquist, who taught math at South High. “They invested real money, which was more fun that investing play money. They did very well.”
Kommerstad at one point told Kormanik that the South High students were doing a better job than students at a university in California, which had also received a donation for investing.
“He had a great relationship with students,” said Lindquist. “He was kind and enthusiastic and the students really did like him a lot.”
Kormanik, 75, died Feb. 1.
He began and ended his teaching career at South High and never wanted to leave the classroom.
“They wanted him to go to be a principal,” said his wife, Judy Kormanik. “But he said he loved the classroom, this was where he belonged.”
In addition to teaching, Kormanik was a football coach, the school’s athletic director for 12 years, and eventually the badminton coach.
“It’s a tremendous conditioning sport and it’s comparable to tennis,” Kormanik told the Star Tribune in 1988. “There’s a lot of strategy in the game to move the bird around.”
Kormanik played both football and badminton while he was an undergraduate at Macalester College in St. Paul.
At first he majored in journalism, but he switched to business administration with a specialty in education. He also earned a master’s at the University of Minnesota.
He was an accomplished handyman, building everything from bird houses to two residences, one a cabin and the other the family home in Maple Grove.
“He built a lake place and then a few months later that is where we spent our summers,” said Judy Kormanik. “He was real involved in building our home.”
On the family home’s seven acres, he spent a lot of time establishing and tending to vegetable and flower gardens.
Kormanik retired from teaching in 1999.
“He liked to teach students and make them better people,” said his wife. “My son ran into a person that had Rich as a teacher and he said, ‘All I ever learned from high school, I learned from your dad.’ ”
In addition to wife Judy, Kormanik is survived by sons Jason and Tim, as well as one grandson.
Services have been held.