A fifty-one year career as a teacher and administrator is the legacy left by Maude May McMindes. Maude was born March 3, 1884, on the farm of her parents, Owen and Mary (Balmer) McMindes, in Lawrence Township of northern Osborne County, Kansas. She attended the nearby Fairview School and finished her early education at the Downs Business College. Maude began teaching in 1901 at a one-room schoolhouse near her parents home. She taught the six-month term at Union School for $25 a month salary.
Over the next twelve years she also taught at Summit, Pleasant Valley, and Fairview rural schools, along with a year in the Osborne Grade School. At this point Maude decided to further her own education and entered Fort Hays State College at Hays, Kansas, graduating from there in 1916. That same year she was hired to teach mathematics at Hays Junior-Senior High School. She became principal at Hays High School in 1920, a position she held for seven years.
In 1927 Maude was appointed Director of Secondary Teacher Training and Assistant Professor of Education at Fort Hays State College. She quickly made her mark by expanding the time student teachers taught at area high schools from one hour per day to a full day. From 1935 to 1942 Maude developed for the college a plan known as “education block teacher training,” whereby student teachers would be able to spend a full semester teaching at area high schools, invaluable experience that greatly improved the quality of new teachers. It was the first such program in Kansas and one of the first in the United States. Maude received wide acclaim for the superb organization of this innovative program and she was soon elevated to Associate Professor and Director of Secondary Education.
“Many, many of the fine teachers of the public schools, not only in the western portion of the State of Kansas, but throughout the nation, received their training under Miss McMindes, and the youth coming under the instruction of these teachers have the benefit of the firm foundations laid by this master builder whose work will endure through many, many generations.” — Naomi Garner and Ethel Artman, Maude May McMindes (1969).
Maude was a state founder of Delta Kappa Gamma and served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas State Teacher’s Association. She was also a member of the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, and the American Association of University Women.
“Maude McMindes is the personification of sincerity and honesty. She possesses many of the traditional characteristics which made Fort Hays State great. A true friend and guide, she is never too busy for a moment of advice. Her humor, wit and kindly smile endear her to all who are acquainted with the personality of Maude McMindes.” — The Reveille (1950).
On June 1, 1952, Maude retired from teaching. She settled in Osborne and spent a great deal of time researching the history of Portis and the surrounding region and had a monument to the early pioneers of the Portis area placed in the Fairview Cemetery in Lawrence Township. Fort Hays State University honored Maude in 1963, when the new women’s’ dormitory on campus was named McMindes Hall after her as a lasting tribute to her contributions to the education field. In 1964 Maude went to live in the Methodist Home in Topeka, Kansas, where she spent her remaining years. She died there February 16, 1969, and was buried in the Fairview Cemetery south of Portis in Osborne County.