James A. Eslinger, 72, of Terre Haute, died Wednesday, April 29, 2015, of a brain tumor. He was a social studies teacher beginning at Garfield High School, then Terre Haute North Vigo High School, educating more than 14,000 students over his 46 years of teaching. He was one of the original faculty members when North High School opened in 1971.
He was born Jan. 3, 1943, in Bureau County, Ill., to Kenneth N. Eslinger Sr. and Pearl Bolte Eslinger.
On Jan. 30, 1963, he married the love of his life, Carol Ann Marvel Eslinger, who passed away Feb. 8, 2013. He is survived by two sons, James Darrell Eslinger and his husband Jackson Jenkins, and Eric Kevin Eslinger, both of Terre Haute; one grandson, Cameron James Eslinger; one brother, Dr. Kenneth N. Eslinger Jr. and his wife Denise of Cleveland, Ohio; and several cousins, nieces and nephews.
He attended Davis Park, Woodrow Wilson, and Wiley High School, and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana State University. He also attended the University of Florida and Pitzer College for classes beyond his master’s degree. He began his teaching career in 1964, and later served as chair of the social studies department at North High School. He also served as director of Intramural Basketball. He was elected “Teacher of the Year” at North High School in 1983, the first year the election was held for that honor, and he was elected Vigo County Teacher of the Year for the 2004-2005 school year.
He was a co-owner of Maurizio’s Pizza of Terre Haute, having been one of the original founders in 1973. He wrote for outdoor periodicals and has been published in various national hunting and fishing magazines. He was also manager of his family farm in Edgar County, Ill. He served as Lost Creek precinct committeeman for the Democratic Party. He has been a member of the Vigo County Teachers Association, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, the Wabash Valley Labor Council, Hoosier Outdoor Writers, Indiana Civil Liberties Union, TREES Inc., and the Eugene V. Debs Society.
He loved life, the people around him, and the joys they shared. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” was his point of view.
He enjoyed playing basketball and softball, both of which he did into his 60s. An avid outdoorsman, he particularly loved fishing, hunting, and forestry.
Funeral services were at DeBaun Wabash Avenue Chapel, 2425 Wabash Ave., on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 10 a.m. Burial followed in Roselawn Memorial Park. Visitation was Sunday, May 3, 2015, from 2 to 6 p.m. If friends so desire, memorial contributions may be made to the Carl S. Riddle scholarship fund, TREES, Inc., The Terre Haute Humane Shelter or the charity of choice.