Hammond High School music teacher James Qualkinbush was charismatic, his daughter Denise Enslen said.
“Whether he would walk into a classroom, church or into Macy’s department store, everybody knew him and was drawn to him,” Enslen said. “My sister Deb said what was amazing is that people of all ages loved him.”
Qualkinbush, 83, of Highland, was passionate about music.
“Dad was one of those people who knew what he wanted to do from the time he was a very young child,” Enslen said. “He knew he wanted to teach, write and play music. He was passionate, not just about music but about the way he could motivate students to be their very best.”
Qualkinbush began his 45-year teaching career in the 1950s at Timothy Christian High School in Cicero, Ill. In 1961, he began teaching at Hammond High. He also taught the elementary school band at Highland Christian School and gave private lessons to more than 60 students weekly.
From 1948 to 1952, Qualkinbush played the trumpet in the U.S. Admiral’s Band, which entertained heads of state.
Qualkinbush had an infectious smile and dimples and hearty laugh, Enslen said. He enjoyed telling jokes and his hobbies were boating, camping and travel.
“Dad loved the water and boating,” his daughter Kim Miller said. “He and Mom always had a boat.”
Qualkinbush and his late wife, Tillie, who were married 53 years, enjoyed camping in their motor home and traveling to Europe and Hawaii.
“He loved to go, go, go,” Miller said. “He loved to watch people.”
Enslen said the family will miss her dad’s optimism, love of life and sense of humor.
“One thing he taught me in recent years is that every day was a special occasion,” Enslen said. “Take every day and make it special. There were no bad days; that is what he projected.”