Two Dunwoody Automotive alums share their experience from classroom to careers
Dave Rieke ’68 and Mike Hoops ’68 (Automotive Service Technology) met at Dunwoody in the fall of 1966 and have remained friends ever since. Both took different career paths, but have remained close for over a half century. Both are devoted Dunwoody fans.
The pair recently sat down to talk about their strong friendship, Dunwoody in the ’60s, and their hopes for the College.
Dave and Mike:
It was September in 1966 and we met in auto class. It was funny as nobody knew anybody. We were students from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin — there were no friendships anybody brought into this, so it was a situation in which we all created new friendships. We did not know what people’s personal or common interests were, but of course, we were into cars, and we all bonded as cohorts given our love of the automobile. At that time, students paired off to work for a four-week training module. It was through this pairing that we started a friendship that spans more than 50 years.
There were probably about 40 of us who started together, and within two or three months, about half the class had left. We believe that many students came with a belief that we would start working on vehicles immediately. But Dunwoody grounded us in the basic automotive systems prior to allowing us that opportunity. Some left over the model, others left for financial reasons, and others left because they did not work up to the level required by Dunwoody.
During the late ’60s, it was a good time to be in school, and it was also a bad time because we were facing the future of the Vietnam War and we had that military shadow over us. The War was a daily worry that most students carried. We saw first-hand students drop out as 19 year olds and be in an Army uniform within 60 days. We decided to enlist in the Navy Reserves together and serve. Fortunately for us, at that time, the Dunwoody Education Model was 18, four-week learning modules. Students could drop out at the end of a module and return to pick up classes. We were able to drop our classes in March 1968 and return eight weeks later. During that period, we went to Naval Recruit Training also known as Boot Camp. We returned to classes as sailors or at least with sailor hair.
So we carried on with our Navy Reserve weekends and our coursework, getting great hands-on experience. Our lives consisted of this schedule — study, work, study, eat, sleep, and start it again the next day. We would be remiss if we did not mention the time clock, which was a big deal back then. That said, it did develop a work ethic, punctuality, and ensured our expertise so that we would be work ready on day one. Also, when we were students, the endowment was paying for most of our education, so we knew that if we did not follow the rules as well as develop to our full potential…you know the highway is right next to the campus.
During our time at Dunwoody, there was a lot of excitement with the opening of the new Warren Cadillac building. Henry E. Warren gave a partial donation of the Warren Cadillac dealership building for the auto and welding programs, and we were thrilled to move into the new building. The energy and exhilaration of having our own building rubbed off on us.
Once we graduated from Dunwoody and completed our active duty in the Navy, we launched our careers. Although we lived about 10 miles from each other for several years, with growing families and varied interests, we did not see each other as much. Now that we are retired, we can pick up where we left off. We are also lucky as our wives clicked right away and have a strong friendship. Today, we enjoy visiting each other’s homes and being active outdoors together, including fishing, hunting, hiking, traveling, making maple syrup — you name it.
Dunwoody gave both of us the self-confidence to launch our careers. The College is a great model for technical education and is a cut above what other schools are doing out there.
As we both reflect on when we started at Dunwoody, the advice we both wished we had heard louder would be to develop personal relationships and good customer service skills as you will need these interpersonal skills throughout your career, and to enjoy all that you are learning, doing, and creating. We loved the hands-on learning!
We are thrilled about what the future holds for the College. Leadership is so important and Dunwoody is thriving today. We are confident that Dunwoody will continue to be successful in educating students and helping them launch their careers, reach their full potential, and develop in their fields while meeting the workforce needs of today and tomorrow.
About Mike hoops:
Although Hoops was an automotive grad, his career took some twists and turns. After graduation, he was employed by a small independent shop before going on active duty in the Navy in November of 1968. He returned from the Navy and worked as a mechanic for several years at L & W Chevrolet in Hector and farmed part-time.
In the late ‘70s Hoops was hired by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and moved into a career that eventually led to being a State Park Supervisor.
His last career change happened at age 55 and took him from Gooseberry Falls State Park into retirement when he became an elk hunting guide in Montana, something that he still is doing.
Hoops lives on the North Shore of Lake Superior and fills his spare time as Township Supervisor (a position he’s held for 18 years) and is a member of the county Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment.
Hoops has a passion for tapping maple trees and collecting the sap to produce maple syrup. In the mid-2000s, Hoops joined Dunwoody’s Alumni Board and volunteered to conduct “Planned Giving” interviews for the College, serving over the next six years.
Today, Hoops is a member of Dunwoody’s Legacy Makers Society, a growing group of devoted donors who have chosen to include the College in their estate plans. Mike has shared that “he bleeds Dunwoody.”
About Dave Rieke:
After graduating from Dunwoody, Rieke started a repair shop in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. Like Hoops, he also went on active duty in the Navy in November of 1968.
In the fall of 1970 Rieke returned to his home in Fairfax, Minnesota and began farming with his family.
Along with farming, he did automotive repair work in the farm shop as well as maintaining all the family’s equipment and vehicles. During a couple of years in the early ‘70s he was able to work part time with Mike at L & W Chevrolet.
The farm, now in its fifth generation, grows soybeans and corn and custom feeds hogs.
Rieke served as Clerk on the Town Board for 45 years. As an active member of several other local boards, including the county Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission as well as advising young people, Rieke keeps busy in his community. His passion is electric cars and renewable energy.