Former Mineral County School District superintendent and longtime resident Arlo K. Funk passed away Friday night in Hawthorne at the age of 91.
At June 14, 1961, Mineral County School Board of Trustees’ meeting, Funk was appointed the principal of Mineral County High School.
Though several applications had been considered, Funk stood out as a prospective candidate and his journey as a Serpent began.
The Mineral County Independent and Hawthorne News described Funk as a native of Colorado, born in Yuma in May of 1926. His teaching and administrative were gained in the Moffat Consolidated School 1948 to 1949; Mosca Consolidated School 1949 to 1953; Vernon Consolidated School 1953 to 1956 and the School District R-3 at Otis 1956 to 1961.
His journey as principal would only last from 1961 to 1965 when he would be named superintendent of Mineral County schools in 1966.
Sheri Samson, a current school board clerk fondly remembers Funk. “My first meeting as a School Board member, Arlo welcomed me with a smile and asked me if I knew what I had jumped into. With that, I considered him a respected, honest friend that accepted me at face value rather than an “outsider” to the community.” At many meetings, Samson would recall Funk in the audience, attending most school board meetings.
“I cherished all of our conversations and the way he could instruct with his honest opinions so wisely.”
Throughout his tenure as superintendent, Funk would work with over 53 school board trustees and oversaw the graduation of over 2,000 students.
In 2013, the Mineral County School District would name the district building in honor of the man who gave over a quarter century to the children of this county. It would be named, “Arlo K. Funk District Services Center”.
In 1990, Funk would retire from Mineral County School District, though he attended each game, he threw his hat into the political field, running for county commissioner. He would serve in that position from 1993-1996.
During his first political career as commissioner, former County Clerk Marlene Bunch fondly remembers Funk, who had previously been her principal who she and Glenn [Bunch] “fondly remember after observing “Senior Ditch Day”. He was always referred to as “Mr. Funk”. After Funk became a commissioner, Bunch and Funk would get on first name basis, Bunch remembering him as “Arlo”.
“Arlo and I had many close conversations about a multitude of topics. I always loved it when he would give me that funny laugh of his; you just knew he was up to something. Many controversial topics crossed our desks at that time and we had to make our way through it. Like it or not, things had to be done and he was one to make a strong decision when it was required. “
“I think he got that fortitude while serving as school superintendent and it just carried over.”
Funk would be involved in saving the historical Hawthorne Sign. In the book, “Neon Nevada”, Former Sheriff Rocky McKellip would tell writer Peter and Sheila Swan Laufer, “I’m standing there, looking at the Hawthorne sign and I thought we could have one too Signs like that make people stop.”
Sheriff McKellip would manage to rescue the sign and rallied a crowd to help preserve the landmark which had been burning in Hawthorne since the 1940’s.
“They all thought it was nuts,” Sheriff McKellip stated. The money to restore the Hawthorne Sign came from Mineral County coffers.
“Arlo Funk, he’s the one who made sure we got the money,” Sheriff McKellip told the Laufer’s, former county commissioner Funk the credit.
Funk would serve another term as county commissioner from 1999-2002.
In his retirement, Funk would continue to support the Mineral County School District by becoming a substitute teacher and selling tickets at sporting events.
Former student Terry Johnson recalls Funk, “I remember the first day of the 1963-1964 school year, the high school principal, Mr. Funk, called all Freshman to an assembly in the gym to announce ‘beginning this year, the number of credits needed to graduate from high school is going from 16 to 18. I went home worried.”
Those who recall Funk, remember him always dressed nicely. A pressed white shirt, dress slacks, and polished shoes, even if it was to have coffee every morning with his group of old guys at McDonald’s.
“He always wore a white shirt and up until the later years, he was also wearing a tie. I would see him mowing the lawn wearing dress pants, white shirt, and tie. No matter how hot it was. And up until his later years, I would see him taking his daily walks around town and again wear his dress pants, white shirt, and tie,” Bunch told the Independent-News.
This memory of the white shirt – is probably etched in all of our memories. “I asked him one day if he had shirts that had any color but white and he replied, “No.” They were all white and that’s the way it was.”
Most that remember Funk, will remember his soft-spoken voice, his attire and his love for the school and children of Mineral County School District. That was shown last winter after the MCHS Boys won the State Championship. Funk was able to rejoice in the win – just like he did 1964 when he was awarded a state championship jacket.
All that is left now are the memories of his mentorship, stories of triumph and defeat and half-forgotten pranks in the memory of Arlo Funk.