Former Student, Music Fan Who Followed His Library Campfire Songs
Don Lintereur’s passing leaves a void in our community some may never grasp. My first memories of Mr. Lintereur, the Biology teacher, were as an eager freshman. I remember him leading a large group of high school students in dissecting for the first time. Some were eager to try, most were rather indifferent, but a few were genuinely mortified. Mr. Lintereur could see the different points of view and encouraged, motivated, and cajoled each in turn. I’m not saying everyone enjoyed the experience, but everyone learned. I realize, Tomahawk natives already know many stories of his skill in the art of teaching. Fellow teachers even describe him as the one everyone went to with questions. If on a rare occasion, Don didn’t know the answer, you could expect him to turn up within a day or two with the answer and another question or two. He never stopped enjoying the challenge of learning.
But I was asked to write about another side of Don … Don Lintereur artist and historical musician. Don enjoyed music and realized the importance of music in our history as well as music in education and daily life. He taught Biology by day, but evenings and weekends Don replicated musical instruments from Medieval times. He then gave of his own time to instruct students in the playing of those instruments. My sisters, Cory and Mary, had the great fortune to be two of those students. The group was known simply as the Renaissance Group, around Tomahawk High. They learned to play the lute, the cittern, the mandora, the lyra viol, the quinton, the rebec, various recorders and the dulcimer. The group was even written up in the Tomahawk Leader in the mid-80’s (Tues. May 19, 1987).
Much later, Don began leading folk songs around the campfire circle, below the Tomahawk Library, at least once a month during the summers. His lovely wife, Miriam, sang along and encouraged all in the group to join in. They sang familiar tunes like “Home on the Range” and “Oh, Suzanna.” They also sang older, less well-known songs like “The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night” and “Dear Little Dolly.” I remember being a young mom, recently moved back to Tomahawk, bringing my two very young children to campfire songs for the first time and being delighted that Don remembered me. He sang the folk songs and played his bass ukelele. Every soul seated on logs around the campfire that night (and each subsequent campfire night we attended) laughed and sang and left with contented smiles on their faces. After roasted marshmallows, every child old enough was taught how to get water from the river to douse the fire. Once again Don touched lives with music, history, and the outdoors. We attended whenever we were able. Sadly, Don needed to move on to other things before my little ones were old enough to remember much of those times. So in a few years, I and an accompanist friend, Bob Seitz, asked his advice and took over Campfire Songs for several summers. Don visited a couple times and enjoyed those campfire songs all over again, adding to the bank of great memories I enjoy to this day of a great friend and mentor.
No one leads Campfire Songs at the library any more, but every camping trip I go on with my almost grown children we sing those songs around our campfire and I quietly think of Don.
Don Lintereur will be missed by those whose lives he touched, but because of those that learned from him, many more souls will find joy in fresh knowledge, in music and in our community.