Steve Wohlmuth worked his way into the hearts of many.
Truth be told, he likely had no clue just how many.
The 53-year-old Port Williams man died suddenly, at home, March 24. News of the loss of the
devoted family man, loving husband, proud father, friend, teacher and coach spurred a ripple effect of shock and sadness.
“Steve was so welcoming to me from day one, and also to my wife Cindy, who taught with him those first years at Central Kings. But we soon realized that’s just how Steve was with everyone,” said Kevin Dickie, executive director of athletics and community events for Acadia University.
Dickie recalls meeting with a passionate group of local track and field athletes led by Wohlmuth soon after arriving at Acadia in 2011.
“Steve was absolutely core in Acadia becoming a destination for local, regional and provincial track and field events because of the transformation of our fields,” he said.
“Way beyond that, however, was the impact Steve had on people. Young people in the classroom, gym or in athletics; and also colleagues and people in general who couldn’t have been associated with a nicer person.”
Wohlmuth’s role in the transformation of Acadia’s Dyke Fields is a legacy the university intends to honour in the near future, Dickie said.
Legacy is a word that’s commonly used in reference to Wohlmuth, the founder and head coach of Launchers Athletics and the Launch Pad off of Collins Road in Port Williams.
“He helped develop many athletes in javelin, shot put and discus who went on to become members of numerous provincial and national teams. He was also head coach to numerous Nova Scotia and Canadian track and field teams,” his obituary states.
Former Kings County Advertiser and Register sports reporter John DeCoste fondly remembers his many encounters with Wohlmuth.
“I first got to know Steve in the mid-1990s as the track and field coach at Central Kings Rural High, where he taught for the past 27 years,” said DeCoste.
“Over the next close to 20 years, I got to interview him as both a teacher and a coach. I reported on some of the awards he received for his teaching, and on several of the many successful athletes he coached.”
DeCoste points to Launchers Athletics, a small throwing club built from the cornfield up under Wohlmuth’s direction, as Wohlmuth’s legacy project. It would come to be a place DeCoste visited many times, starting with the inaugural meet in 2001.
“From its humble beginnings, Launchers grew by leaps and bounds, eventually attracting a stable of top-level athletes from throughout Nova Scotia,” he said, noting that he always looked forward to feasting at the season-ending meet Wohlmuth dubbed the Corn Boil Open.
The throwing club would go on to attract a dedicated group of local athletes, as well as provincial, national and international competitors.
“A naturally humble man, he took the accolades he received in stride, and though I'm sure he was proud of them all, he tended not to show it,” said DeCoste of Wohlmuth’s local and far-reaching success in athletics.
“As a coach, at whatever level, he was firm but fair, passing on his knowledge to an increasing number of top-level young athletes.”
DeCoste was happy to be there to document many of the highlights Wohlmuth shared with the athletes under his direction.
“I considered Steve a friend, and I was truly shocked to hear of his sudden passing at such a relatively young age and with so much more to give,” he said.
“He touched many lives in many ways, and he is already missed.”
Wohlmuth organized the Throw for Autism and Team Heidi initiatives that brought in thousands of dollars for the Acadia Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience (S.M.I.L.E) program and the Valley Chapter of Autism Nova Scotia.
Wohlmuth’s obituary describes him as a man driven by his passions.
“His passion to teach and to coach was seen in everything he accomplished. He was named NSTU Teacher of the year and Canadian Geographic Teacher of the Month.”
The geography teacher encouraged students to view themselves as global citizens.
“He loved to plan class trips for his students to share his love of geography and geology, visiting such places as Iceland and Hawaii,” his obituary says.
“Steve had classes organize school supply drives to support Ifumbo Primary School in Malawi for the last 12 years.”
Central Kings Rural High School principal Matt Butler said it’s difficult to sum up Wohlmuth’s expansive contributions to the school in a succinct statement.
“Steve was a fantastic teacher and an integral part of Central Kings culture. He was truly a renaissance man whose outlook was broad and whose interests and talents were myriad,” said Butler.
“A consummate teacher, coach, actor, and filmmaker, Steve put his diverse talents to work in the classroom to make learning engaging and fun for his students. The students, staff and greater Central Kings community is heartbroken but we feel fortunate for the time that we shared with him.”