Former Lady Grizzly honored Scholarships established in her name 


Two years have passed since former Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) Lady Grizzly Mynde Tarter lost her life in a tragic car accident, but her love of volleyball and her desire to help others continue on through three scholarships that have been established in her name at the university, university officials said.

The most recent is the Mynde N. Tarter Memorial Grizzly Endowed Volleyball Scholarship Fund, established with proceeds from an annual benefit volleyball tournament organized by Shawn and Allyson Bice of West Plains. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a student-athlete in the Lady Grizzly Volleyball program who demonstrates personal integrity and character, leadership qualities, the potential to succeed academically, and the ability to represent MSU-WP with excellence, according to scholarship documents.

This scholarship joins the Mynde N. Tarter Memorial Grizzly Volleyball Scholarship established in 2006 by Dr. Rick and Melanie Walker of Southern Missouri Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Clinic in West Plains to benefit a student-athlete participating in the Lady Grizzly program, and the Mynde Tarter Memorial Endowed Scholarship, also established in 2006 with memorial contributions given to the Missouri State University Foundation in honor of the former Lady Grizzly. The latter scholarship is awarded annually to a full-time student who is an athlete and graduated with the most recent class at West Plains High School, Tarter’s alma mater.

“Even though Mynde is no longer with us, she always tried to help others fulfill their dreams any way she could,” said Harry and Betty Tarter, Mynde’s parents. “I believe she would be very happy to know so many people will be able to get an education because of these scholarships.”

Mynde was a 2001 graduate of Junction Hill School and a 2005 graduate of West Plains High School. Through hard work and dedication, she excelled in the classroom and in a variety of sports, including her favorite – volleyball. She entered MSU-WP in fall 2005 with dreams of pursuing a career in radiology and playing for the Lady Grizzly volleyball program. The latter came true in spring 2006 when she became a member of the team, university officials said.

“Mynde loved volleyball and felt she could excel in this sport,” Harry and Betty Tarter said. “Although she could have played at other colleges, she always dreamed of being a Lady Grizzly from a very young age. She also understood that, although grades did not come easy for her, she had to have an education to fulfill her dreams of becoming a radiologist and returning back to this area to work. It was her way of saying ‘thank you’ to everyone who had helped her along the way.”

Two of those people were Dr. Rick and Melanie Walker, who came to know Mynde and her parents when Mynde came to him as a patient. “Mynde and her parents were such great people, and Mynde was so excited to be chosen to play with the Lady Grizzly Volleyball team. Just knowing the type of person Mynde was and the great family she came from motivated my wife and I to establish the scholarship in Mynde’s honor.  She seemed to be the type of person who left a lasting impression and was influential on those she was in contact with, so it just seemed appropriate to let that influence continue through a scholarship,” Dr. Walker said.

The Bices, who had met Mynde through the West Plains Parks and Recreation Department’s volleyball leagues, felt the same way and started the memorial volleyball tournament in 2007. With just two tournaments, enough money was raised to endow a scholarship in Mynde’s name.

“Mynde was one of those very special and rare people who came into our lives through the sport of volleyball. Because of her love for the game and determination to become a member of the Lady Grizzly Volleyball program, we felt that it was only fitting to honor her memory in a way that she enjoyed living her life,” Shawn and Allyson Bice said. “Mynde had such a drive and determination for becoming a member of the Missouri State-West Plains volleyball team that it would be absolutely wonderful to watch a young lady have the opportunity to excel not only in this sport, but also in the classroom.”

Although the scholarship has reached the endowment level, the Bices plan to continue the tournament on an annual basis. “We hope it will grow larger and become a yearly event everyone looks forward to,” they said. “We appreciate all of the support from the Tarter family. We would like to thank them for allowing us to honor Mynde in such a way that her name and spirit will always be remembered at Missouri State-West Plains and in the community of West Plains.”

“Mynde was a very special young woman. It is appropriate that her memory is honored by the scholarships that have been set up in her name,” said Lady Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Trish Kissiar-Knight. “Mynde was the kind of person we all should aspire to be. She was such a great role model for all young women. If I had a daughter, I would want her to be like Mynde. She had a smile that would light up a room, and she was a joy to be around.”

“I never had the pleasure of meeting Mynde Tarter, but I’m told by many that she was a beautiful, bright and talented student and athlete,” Missouri State-West Plains Chancellor Drew Bennett added. “These scholarships honor Mynde in one of the longest-lasting tributes possible, by assisting others in achieving a college education and thereby changing lives for the better.”

Even though Mynde did not realize all of her dreams personally, the Tarters believe her positive and giving attitude is being carried on through these three scholarships and is helping others to realize their own dreams.

“Harry and I would like to thank Shawn and Allyson for their unselfish contribution and for all of the hours they have put into this tournament for the past two years,” Betty Tarter said. “We also want to thank Dr. and Mrs. Walker, Trish Knight, Assistant Coaches Paula and Warren Wiedemann, and all of our special friends and the community, all of whom pulled together to give their time and contributions to this very successful event.  We are so blessed to live in this wonderful community, which is always there in times of need. Mynde would be very happy and honored to know that she is still able to help lots of young people get their college education.”