Beloved Niles High teacher dies

Published 1:31 pm Friday, January 21, 2005

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Many former Niles High School students are mourning today the loss of an extraordinary teacher.
Joseph R. Szakas, 71, of Niles, died at his home on Monday.
Szakas taught Western Civilization at Niles High School from 1959 to 1995.
By every account, Szakas taught not only history, but life lessons to his many students who credit him with putting them on a road to a richer, fuller life.
Michiana Christian Embassy Pastor, the Rev. Jeff Whittaker, is one of Szakas' former students.
Szakas taught Whittaker when he was a sophomore in 1979 at Niles High.
The tough, yet compassionate, lesson followed.
Niles High School Principal Betty Perkins taught social studies across the hall from Szakas one year.
Perkins said Szakas was a role model for fellow teachers, too.
Szakas' teaching style was very interactive.
Szakas was very involving in helping rekindle interest in the Niles community in learning more about Fort St. Joseph.
Carla Brown, who is today a guidance counselor at Niles High, is a former Szakas' student.
Funeral services for Szakas are Monday at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Niles. Visitation is Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at Halbritter Funeral Home, Niles. Memorials may be made to the Joseph Szakas Memorial Fund, in care of Halbritter Funeral Home, 615 E. Main St., Niles, for the eventual purchase of books pertaining to history for the Niles High School library.