Change is never easy, and saying goodbye to Don Muhlbach will definitely not be easy. He served on the Lufkin ISD board of trustees for the past eight years (May 2013 to June 2021) working alongside the team of eight ensuring the best for our students.
But it’s not just his work as a school board member that will make it difficult to say goodbye to Mr. Muhlbach; it’s the mentorship he selflessly provided for so many students for so many years that will be missed. Most of us refer to him as “coach Muhlbach.” Our own board president Hall Henderson attests to the lasting impression Mr. Muhlbach had in his life from student, to parent, to board member and, finally, to friend.
Through all that he contributes to the community, it should be noted that Mr. Muhlbach never did anything for fame or recognition, but that commitment never goes unnoticed.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine rightly named Mr. Muhlbach a Connector Award recipient for all of the work behind the scenes he has done for our students. That’s what he does best. He connects people. He makes people feel like they belong and inspires them to do better.
He made sure our football players had mentors and caring adults to keep them focused. He worked with our young men at Brookhollow Elementary, meeting them early before school and teaching them life lessons.
He was a lunch buddy and HOSTS mentor to students at Brandon Elementary. Those are just the formal examples of his influence and involvement. There was always much more behind the scenes.
He cared about the staff at Lufkin ISD, and as a former human resources director at the paper mill, he knew the importance of making sure our staff were safe. There is a monthly staff incident report at the board meetings because of his concern and inquiry for on-the-job injuries.
Board members suggested the report be lovingly called the Muhlbach report because of his concern for the safety of our staff. He would constantly admonish us about safety and watching out for slips, trips and falls.
Mr. Muhlbach is, and always will be, part of the Lufkin Panther family. All three of his kids graduated from Lufkin High School. His wife, Sally, has worked in our community as an audiologist and through her business has given much to the school district. They all have left an indelible mark on our hearts and community and will now be able to be hands-on grandparents in College Station.
We will all secretly root for the Detroit Lions and think about coach Muhlbach this fall. I also expect him to occasionally be in the stands in our new gym to root on the Panthers.
We will make sure you have an invitation to the ribbon-cutting and will always save you a seat.
It won’t be easy saying goodbye to Mr. Muhlbach, so instead we will say thank you. Thank you for all that you’ve done to make us Lufkin Proud.