To his family, he was a “perfectionist” known for the dedication he put into everything he signed up for. To his friends, he was a person “full of life” who would bring joy into any group he joined. A respected principal, an accomplished cellist and a renowned cyclist — David Noennig was a man of many talents.
A resident of Lake Elmo, he died doing what he loved most — cycling. His bike was hit by a pickup truck on July 3 in St. Paul. In a coma for 10 days, he died July 13 at Regions Hospital in St. Paul from severe brain injuries. He was 73.
“Dave,” as his friends and family called him, grew up in Hamburg, Minn. He joined Concordia Academy, an all-boys school in St. Paul, where he started playing the cello at his mother’s urging as a 14-year-old, said his family. He graduated in 1967 from Concordia College in St. Paul with a bachelor’s degree in education and a minor in music. During his sophomore year, he met Kay Kunde. They married the same year.
The couple, said his wife, loved to travel and explore the world. When someone would ask her, “Where’s Dave?” she would remark, “Out walking.”
A year later, he took a job as a music teacher for three years at Concordia Academy. Later he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and went on to become principal at Wildwood Elementary School in Mahtomedi for 20 years. After retirement, he took interim posts as principal at various schools.
People who knew him got used to his taking off and eventually recharging. “He wanted to know as much as he could about the areas we were visiting,” Kay Noennig said. “What a man! What a husband! What a father! I haven’t enough tears.”
Music ran deep in David Noennig’s family. He learned the cello at MacPhail Center for Music. His brother, Jack, was a violinist and later a member of the Golden Strings band that played at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. His sister Judy was a flutist. For more than 20 years, David played cello with the St. Paul Civic Symphony. Fellow cellist Tim Perry knew him as someone who always wore a smile on his face.
“He was three years older than me but had more energy,” said Perry, the symphony’s principal cellist who last played with Noennig during a gathering of cellists at Perry’s house on June 23.
“I haven’t known people as cheerful as him,” Perry said.
As a cycling enthusiast, Noennig biked nearly 8,600 miles in 2017 on his Trek road bike, taking second in number of miles ever covered by any member of the Twin Cities Bicycling Club, according to his family. Linda Johnson, who biked “many miles” with him, recalled how they had to slow down after going nonstop for several days.
“He was so enthusiastic about biking that he would do it for the whole week without a day off at times,” said Johnson.
One day after biking, he came home and showed his wife his broken leg, she recalled. “He said he had skidded at the bottom of a hill in a puddle and fallen but got up again and continued the ride. He had to. But I drove him to Tria and his tibia was broken. That slowed him down a bit for awhile,” she said.
Regarding the fatal collision, Noennig’s family members said they want the driver of the truck that hit David to know that they have forgiven him. “I have nothing against the poor driver. I want him to know that David died doing what he loved the most,” Kay Noennig said.
His son Paul described Noennig as a person who was always on the go and who was adored by everyone he knew.
“He would know all his students at the school by name,” he said.
A funeral service was held last Friday at Woodbury Lutheran Church.
In addition to his wife, Kay, and son, Paul, Noennig is survived by another son, Peter; two grandchildren; a sister, Judy; and a brother, Jack.