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HUMC has Kallman arrange anthem in honor of Jim Wheeler

The Hubbard United Methodist Church Choir commissioned an arrangement of one of Jim Wheeler’s favorite anthems in honor of his retirement following more than a decade of service to the church as music director.

Daniel Kallman of Northfield, a former student of Wheeler’s in Austin, wrote an arrangement of the beloved anthem, “Morning Has Broken,” which the choir sang as a surprise for Wheeler during his last Sunday at the church, April 27. Carol Wall directed the choir; Cheryl Steinborn was the accompanist.

A band teacher for many years, Wheeler accepted the position of music director at the Hubbard church, believing that “music is music.”

“I have enjoyed every note, every beat, every word,” the Park Rapids resident said recently. “If our music at the Hubbard church has helped some people find their way back to Christ, then it was all worth it.”

Wheeler’s teaching career began in Iowa, following a stint with the 541st Air Force Band during the Korean War and after graduating from Luther College.

“It was the golden era of teaching,” he said, noting that teachers were respected and parents supported them; they wouldn’t let their children quit.

“I would hear students say later, ‘I’m sure glad I didn’t quit,’” Wheeler said. He recounted one tender story that has remained with him over the years.

“In my early years of teaching in Iowa, I taught a junior who loved the saxophone. She was a quiet farm girl, dying of leukemia. Her parents told her she didn’t need to continue going to school, but she told them, ‘I don’t want to miss band.’”

Wheeler went on to earn a master of music degree in performance from Mankato State University, and in time was offered the position of associate professor of music at the University of St. Thomas.

“One of the joys of teaching,” said Wheeler, “is when you have a student who can do what you can’t do!”

Wheeler is well-known in the Park Rapids community. He is a co-founder of and directed the Park Rapids area Community Band, the Hubbard Brass, and is a former director of the Park Rapids Classic Chorale.

Now that he has retired, he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Nadine, and his children and grandchildren.

“We might even have time to travel,” he said with a smile.