Thomas Dakich was a fun-loving man who was quick to joke and tease, said Bobbie Dakich, his wife of 54 years.

“I loved his smile and his beautiful blue eyes,” she said. “He was a wonderful husband.”

Thomas Dakich, 81, of Valparaiso, died April 8.

He was a 1951 Horace Mann High School graduate, where he was a star basketball player. He attended Idaho State University on a basketball scholarship, then transferred to Bowling Green State University. He also served two years in the Army.

He began teaching at Calumet High School in 1959, and spent more than 40 years there, teaching business classes, coaching and serving as assistant principal and principal.

“He loved his students, and liked to encourage them and see them grow,” she said. Since he died, Bobbie Dakich said she has received countless notes from former students telling her how he had impacted their lives.

He loved sports, whether playing basketball in his younger days, or golfing regularly until a few weeks before he died. He loved the Chicago Cubs and the Indianapolis Colts. He also enjoyed watching his children, then his grandchildren, play sports, his wife said.

“He loved to go to sporting events or to dance recitals,” she said.

He loved to travel, whether it to be Chicago to spend the day, or to the beach to watch the sun set. The couple were just returning from a six-week cruise when he died, and he had zip-lined while on that vacation, she said.

“He led a full life,” she said. “He was a lot of fun, and a great guy.”

Scott is a Chesterton native who has been in journalism since 1991. He worked at newspapers in Spencer, Fort Wayne and Michigan City. Lawson spent five years in the U.S. Navy as a journalist. He lives in Chesterton with his wife and daughter.