Cancer ends Bethel teacher’s vibrant life

Minta Wulf’s kids remember her as a “no excuses” mom.

“The bar was set really high,” her daughter Carling Watts said. “She always had high expectations for all of us.”

Wulf, a teacher at Cedarcrest Middle School in the Bethel School District for 24 years, died Monday after a 41/2-year battle with breast cancer. She was 54.

Wulf taught health and fitness and was athletic coordinator and a coach in the school district. She was part of the team that helped develop Brain Breaks, a program of brief physical activities designed for classroom teachers to help kids refocus and to reinforce student learning.

She coached volleyball, track, cross-country and soccer.

She was a standout college athlete, named an All-American in track and field by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and inducted into the Pacific Lutheran University Athletic Hall of Fame.

She graduated from Washington High School in the Franklin Pierce School District in 1978. Back then, she was Minta Norton.

She married young, had three children and entered college while her kids were still young. In her PLU days, she was known as Minta Misley.

Somehow she found time to compete as a college athlete.

She was the inaugural winner of the Lute Inspirational Award for the 1987-88 school year, when she graduated from PLU.

“I grew up running around on the track there,” said her oldest son, Phil Misley.

Later, when he was a junior high student, his mom was also his coach. He remembers the time he had a snowboarding mishap and told his mom afterward that he couldn’t run because his foot hurt.

“Pump your arms, and you’ll be fine,” she told him.

It turned out the foot was broken, and his mom felt guilty.

“It probably wouldn’t have bothered her to run on a broken foot,” Phil Misley said.

She met her current husband, Bryan Wulf, a Spanaway Lake High School teacher, while she coached at his school, and he coached at Cedarcrest. They had a son, who is 12.

He said that his wife’s fight with cancer was difficult, but that she handled it without complaint.

“One of her goals was trying to bring everybody up,” he said. “When she went to the infusion center for chemotherapy, she was an all-star. She would liven the place up and bring a smile to everybody else.”

In November, Cedarcrest honored her by presenting her with a “Fighter Award” during Pink Out Day, in support of breast cancer awareness.

“I call her my human mood enhancer,” Cedarcrest Principal Cheryl Barnett said then. “When she walks in the room, it’s a party.”

Minta Wulf said at the time that students were able to talk to her about their family members who had been touched by cancer.

“A lot of good comes out of a situation like this,” she said in November.

Wulf was also a woman of faith and a member of Lighthouse Christian Center in Puyallup. She passed that legacy to her kids, said Watts, also a Cedarcrest teacher.

“With anyone who crossed her path, she used her diagnosis and her strong faith to open doors for other people and to talk about her faith with other people,” she said.

In her final days, she was surrounded by hundreds of friends who visited her after she left the hospital and entered home hospice care.

“It was like an open house,” her husband said. “There were neighbors, people from school, kids read letters to her. As tough as it was to see her in her final days, it was inspiring to see how many people she touched.”

Wulf is survived by her husband, four children and two grandchildren.


A memorial service for Minta Wulf is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at Cedarcrest Middle School, 19120 13th Ave. Court E., Spanaway.

The family asks that those who wish to make memorial donations send them to the Minta’s Legacy Donation Account at any Wells Fargo Bank. The money will create a college fund for Wulf’s grandchildren, present and future.