Q & A with Terry Kurtz: Visually preserving history

Longtime Apple Valley teacher, videographer and entertainer Terry Kurtz is very much a product of his Midwestern upbringing and Puritan ethics.

Kurtz is the youngest of three children to working-class parents. His dad, foreman of the public utilities overhead-line crew near their Nebraska home, was often out of town all week repairing power lines.

“Dad was very tall and athletic — set Nebraska scoring record in basketball — an avid sports fan and outdoorsman who loved hunting and fishing,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz lived in the same home in rural O’Neill, Neb., from birth until leaving for college. His “workday-starts-early” routine began with a paper route at 9 years old, delivering papers at 6 a.m.

At age 14, Kurtz’ weekend radio job rescued him from delivering papers but also committed him to 6 a.m. morning sign-on shifts.

He attended Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., on a football and basketball scholarship, though the school allowed him to drop basketball after his freshman year, benefiting both parties.

He quarterbacked the Tigers football team for four years, eventually earning the honor of induction to the hall of fame at the school, where he also served as junior and senior class president.

Kurtz came to Apple Valley after graduating in 1967 and began a 40-year career teaching history and cinematography at Apple Valley High School. During that time, he coached football and baseball before moon-lighting in media-related fields: KAVR Radio from 1970 to 1980, KVVT-TV from 1986 to 1991 and later at Charter’s CNN Headline News from 1991 to 2006.

He continues in video journalism to this day, including behind-the-scenes features for Law Dog Production’s TV Western series, “Tales of the Frontier.”
He also enjoys remaining active in the gunfighter/stuntman group, the Santa Fe Drifters.

Q: Why did you move to Apple Valley?
A: Followed older brother John, who’d set up interviews with me to join him as a teacher and coach in the local high school district, upon my graduation from college. That first football coaching staff at Apple Valley High School included my brother, and current Apple Valley Unified School District board member Dennis Bender, under head coach Sam Samaniego. My plan was to teach and coach one year, then walk on with the Los Angeles Rams in pursuit of a far more glorious career in the NFL. We coaches attended a Rams practice session, though, and I met Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel. He was 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, bigger than most linemen I’d played against in college, and the sad realization quickly set in that my size (let alone, talent) was far better suited for coaching and teaching, than trying to play quarterback in the NFL.

Q: What is your passion?
A: In my later years, performing. Invoking laughter. I relish amusing others. When younger, competing in sports was my greatest passion. Baseball as a youth; football through college; then recreation league basketball and softball. Most of my best friends, to this day, were teammates. My manner of teaching involved performing, I felt, in that making assignments (and presentations) entertaining and amusing accomplished a great deal. As a CNN Headline News anchor, I felt equally compelled to make my newscasts entertaining, as well as informative.

Q: Describe a special memory you have of Apple Valley.
A: Radio days at KAVR (Kaleidoscope of Contemporary Music), where I would visit on occasion with Roy Rogers. And frequent interviews with Dale Evans — I would interview her each time she published a new book, which seemed an annual accomplishment. They were very special individuals leaving me with treasured memories. My final day teaching at Apple Valley High School remains a special memory as well. The students overwhelmed me with their kindness.

Q: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.
A: I have never learned to accept praise, nor criticism, gracefully. Oh, and although a die-hard fan of the world-champion San Francisco Giants, I do not hate the Dodgers. Well, maybe, a little.

Q: What is the ultimate issue facing the United States, and what’s your take on it?
A: Having read the Book, I know how the story ends. I believe the United States is headed toward a one-world government. The course this nation has been on, away from Godly principles, would be cause for great worry, were it not for the Bible telling me not to worry.

Q: What person, living or from history, would you most like to have dinner with and why? What would you ask them?
A: Bruce Bochy remains my favorite, when I visit with him as manager of my beloved San Francisco Giants. We shared many a post-game meal when he led the High Desert Mavericks to the Cal League championship in 1991, and we relive many a memory of those days. Though I interviewed him in 2007, I did not deem it proper to ask what it was like managing Barry Bonds. Were we to visit away from the ballpark, he would answer candidly. In an historic sense (though I’d not seek a dinner engagement), I’d like to sit and ask G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt where they were, and what they were doing, Nov. 22, 1963.

Q: Where do you get your values from?
A: My dad emphasized leadership and teamwork. From my mother, when facing a challenge, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. From both, the importance of working hard and striving for perfection in everything I do. Some people compliment me on my penmanship. I tell them my mom told me to write neatly, so I do. One day, as a pre-teen, I saw an elderly neighbor lady walking across the street, and I said, “There goes Old Lady Simonson.” Mom immediately reprimanded me, saying to never speak disrespectfully of older people. I never use that “Old Lady” nor “Old Man” description, to this day. My college football coach, Gordon Zapp, influenced me tremendously in positive virtues. In later life, wife Rebecca instilled deeper meaning and importance to walking the walk as a Christian.

Q: Tell us about your favorite thing about Apple Valley.
A: The memories here. The outstanding young people in my history and cinema classes, and players I coached at Apple Valley High School and in Little League baseball. My best friends, former teammate Tim Glass and fellow gunfighter James Fuentez, are here. But most importantly, this is my home, and I am content beyond description being in my beautiful home with my wife and teenage son in Apple Valley today.

Q: What is the best thing about your job?
A: Knowing video projects I produce, especially for high school and college athletes, will be enjoyed (eventually treasured) by them years from now. That’s true for those I interview in behind-the-scenes features for “Tales of the Frontier” as well. I’m able to produce something that will always remind them of exciting times we shared. But what’s best about the Tales of the Frontier projects is being part of producing and presenting entertainment based on wholesome family values and Christian principles. A new project for 2013 is producing a bi-weekly, half-hour program to promote Barstow.

Q: What is your secret to living a happy, satisfying life?
A: My faith. Not letting things over which I have no control bother me, knowing He is in control. And be assured, I am living a happy,
satisfying life.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say, anything you’d like to get off your chest?
A: This life is a test. Pay attention, follow directions and do your own work. Oh, and to parents, teachers and coaches: Youngsters learn better when you smile.

Q: How can readers get a hold of you?
A: I’m on Facebook. I genuinely enjoy hearing from former students and past acquaintances.

Who would you like to see profiled in an upcoming Q&A? Drop us a line at News@AppleValley-Review.com.

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