Soup Winblad: A Farmington treasure

by Pat Rupp
Thisweek Newspapers

I came to Farmington in 1973 fresh from a four-year term in the United States Air Force. My position at the then six-year (grades 7-12) high school was that of guidance counselor.

About a day into that first year, I heard for the first time, but by no means last, the name of “Soup” Winblad invoked. It came from principal Les Lindell, assistant principal Don Meyers and most of the veteran teachers in the building.

It usually arrived in the form of something like “That’s not the way
Soup did it” or “Soup did it this way” or “Soup did it that way.”

Those and a lot of other fond memories of Wilbur “Soup” Winblad came
washing over me last week when I heard that the Farmington legend died
much too early at the age of 86.

I finally got to meet the first-ever guidance counselor (and first
athletic director) at FHS shortly after the start of the 1973 school
year. I could immediately see why folks wanted to do things his way.

He had a personality and presence the size of Minneapolis with an ego
the size of Castle Rock. If you couldn’t like Soup Winblad, you’re
circuitry must have been mis-wired.

Soup left Farmington for another “first” job, namely that of the first
counselor at the then-Dakota County Area Vocational Technical Institute
in Rosemount where he almost immediately became the face of the
fledgling school.

I recall an administrator there telling me once about an attendance
issue the school was having in its truck driving program. Seems a good
many of the future across-the-road haulers were having some problems
making it to class every day. Not a good sign for the future of the
nation’s trucking industry.

Soup was assigned the task of finding a solution and it started with
one-on-one conferences with the students. By the end of the term the
problem had disappeared. The word from the administrator was the AWOL
students found that going to class or simply dropping out was a lot
easier than having Soup hounding them every day about their
whereabouts.

Winblad’s life accomplishments could fill volumes. He was a Marine
combat veteran in World War II, a star athlete both at Red Wing High
School and Winona State Teacher’s College, a teacher-counselor-coach at
Rushford and Farmington (18 years) high schools, and a legendary figure
at what is now Dakota County Technical College.

He was the 1970 Farmington Teacher of the Year and in 1992 was a member
of the inaugural class of Farmington High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Six years earlier he had been inducted into the Winona State Athletic
Hall of Fame.

But all of the awards don’t begin to tell the story of Soup Winblad.
You just had to know him to grasp that. Fortunately, a lot of people
around here had that privilege.

One of my first residences in Farmington was located a half block down
the street from the Winblads and my then 5-year-old daughter Julie had
a difficult time understanding why anyone would call a man “Soup.”

Instead she referred to her neighbor with the flat-top haircut as “Souperman.” I think she nailed it.

Pat Rupp is sports writer for Thisweek Farmington.

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