James P. Quinlivan, Sr., 1943-2013

Whitmer teacher studied presidents


James P. Quinlivan, Sr., a high school history teacher for 39 years who moved his family to Maumee because of the community’s rich ties to the past, died Saturday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg.

He was 69 and died of complications from the flu. He also suffered from diabetes, his wife, Kathy, said.

Mr. Quinlivan was a gregarious son of an Irishman who would engage almost everyone he met in conversation, particularly involving politics, history, and current events, his wife said.

Mel Ogradowski, a fellow social studies teacher at Whitmer High School, said his colleague was respected for his knowledge of his subject and his love of a good conversation or story.

“Jim certainly had the gift of gab,” Mr. Ogradowski said. “No doubt he would talk the heck out of you. He certainly was not a shy man.”

He was born in Toledo on June 11, 1943, to an immigrant Irish father, Michael, and a German mother, Eulalia. He was a graduate of Libbey High School and the University of Toledo.

He received his bachelor’s degree in 1966, and later a master’s degree, both in history. He was working on his doctorate in history until about age 55, when his diabetes made his studies too difficult, his wife said.

His first teaching job was in Columbus, but he moved back to Toledo to teach at Scott High School for several years before going to Whitmer in 1970, where he stayed until retiring in 2004.

The couple chose to live in Maumee because of its rich history, his wife said.

Mr. Ogradowski said Mr. Quinlivan’s students appreciated the depth of his knowledge.

“His love of history certainly showed. He made it interesting for the kids,” he said.

His specialty was the American presidents. The family visited many homes of past presidents while on vacation, although not always to their two sons’ delight, Mrs. Quinlivan said.

“The kids would say it was boring,” she said, drawing out the last word with a chuckle.

Decor in the family home included pictures of presidents.

“I think the kids were able to learn the presidents’ names because the pictures were always up in the house,” she said.

But in class, he also emphasized the present.

“When we were first married, we had to watch the evening television news. He had to know what was going on for current events” that he would share with his students, his wife said.

Mr. Ogradowski said he and Mr. Quinlivan began teaching social studies at the same time and became friends and golf buddies.

The two golfed on a league with other Whitmer teachers. Mr. Quinlivan also started a league for members of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Maumee, where he was a longtime member and usher.

His interest in golf led him to volunteer with the Jamie Farr LPGA golf tournament for nearly 14 years. He was responsible for lining up volunteers to fill the various slots on the hole he was assigned, his wife said.

In addition, he volunteered at various men’s professional tournaments that were played at the Inverness Club.

A neighbor enlisted him to be an usher at the Stranahan Theater, where he volunteered for seven years, his wife said.

He was active in the Toledo Irish-American Club, serving as its secretary and volunteering during its annual festival.

Surviving are his wife of 43 years, Kathy; sons, James P., Jr., and Sean C., and two grandchildren.

Visitation is 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, Maumee. Services are at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Maumee.

Memorials are suggested to the Toledo Animal Shelter.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: jsielicki@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.