Dave Kendall's lasting legacy at Montana Western

UMW News Bureau

dave kendall

Dave Kendall, who served as the Western Montana College (now the University of Montana Western) Head Athletic Trainer for 30 years and fully modernized the campus athletic training program, died on Nov. 23, 2012 at the age of 70.

Born in Spokane, Wash. on Sept. 11, 1942, Kendall graduated from Deer Park High School in 1960 after serving as a captain on both his high school basketball and football teams. He was passionate about athletics and after attending Columbia Basin Junior College and Whitworth University, Kendall pursued a master’s degree in sports medicine from Indiana University. At the time, it was the only university to offer an athletic trainer program.

It was at Indiana University that Kendall met his wife Becky, who was also taking graduate courses at the time. After earning his master’s, Kendall took a job as an instructor and head athletic trainer at the University of Pacific in Stockton, Calif., but he and Becky stayed in touch. She eventually moved to Stockton, and the couple married in June 1967.

While in Stockton, Kendall served as a trainer at National Football League (NFL) training camps for the Oakland Raiders, and in 1971 he took a job as assistant trainer for the Denver Broncos. After five years with the Broncos, he took the job as head athletic trainer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A westerner at heart, he jumped at the opportunity to move to Dillon, Mont. to become the head athletic trainer and a professor at Western Montana College in 1977.

“It was pretty much a handshake and the job was his,” Becky remembered. “Soon after he accepted the position at WMC, he was offered a job at the Colorado School of Mines. I would have loved to go back to Colorado, but he always said, ‘A man’s word is his bond, and a handshake is a contract.’”

Kendall’s decision to come to Dillon proved to be pivotal for WMC. He redesigned the entire athletic training facility and also transformed the curriculum. His students went on to take jobs all over the country in settings such as professional baseball and physical therapy clinics. Under his leadership, WMC students received more National Athletic Trainers’ Association and Northwest Athletic Trainers’ Association scholarships than any program in the northwest.

University of Montana Western Interim Athletic Director Janelle Handlos was one of Kendall’s students and eventually worked with him in the athletic training program at Montana Western.

“Dave had a profound impact on the profession of athletic training in the Pacific Northwest and beyond,” Handlos said. “From 1977 through 2004, the internship program Dave created at WMC produced more than 30 graduates who passed the Board of Certification exam to become certified athletic trainers. In addition to educating athletic training students, Dave made an impact on every athlete on this campus over a span of 30 years. Student athlete injuries were treated by a highly skilled health care provider who also taught the young men and women in his care the importance of discipline and respect.”

Kendall’s awards and distinctions speak volumes.

He received the Athletic Trainer Service Award from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Athletic Trainers’ Association. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, the University of Pacific Hall of Fame, the Northwest Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame and the University of Montana Western Hall of Fame.

After his retirement, he enjoyed spending time hunting and horseback riding in the mountains around Dillon. He was a proud family man and is survived by his wife Becky; daughter, Traci Claar of Centreville, Va.; son, Todd (Elizabeth) of Bozeman, Mont.; grandchildren Kendall Claar and Troy and Ty Kendall; his aunt, Charlotte Snell of Mead, Wash.; brothers Neil (Joanne) of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Warren (Dixie) of Spokane, Wash.; sister-in-law Mary Louise Whitlow (Jim) of New Bern, N.C.; brother-in-law David Beck of Montoursville, Penn.; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister Joanne.