Elkhart music teacher Jim Greiner remembered for 'big, booming voice' and love of music

Jim Greiner created Goshen High School's Crimsonaires show choir and taught music at Goshen and Elkhart schools for about 25 years. He died in April.

Posted on May 10, 2014 at 11:56 a.m.

Jim Greiner loved it when a former student approached him at the store and wanted to trade memories.

It happened often, according to his family, because Greiner likely met thousands of students during his career teaching music at Goshen and Elkhart schools for 25 years.

Greiner died April 14 at the age of 87. 

His students remember a big, gruff man with a booming voice — a teacher who believed in his students and their abilities.

One of those students was Curtis Hill, Elkhart County's prosecuting attorney. 

Hill took choir from Greiner in seventh and eighth grade at North Side in Elkhart.

"The first thing I recall (about Greiner) was the first thing he did, which was teach us the North Side fight song, which I still know to this day," Hill said. "I thought that was pretty cool."

It was also cool to have a male choir teacher, especially one who used "an artistic approach," Hill said. 

"I think that was good for the boys in class, to get them touch with their singing side and maybe carry that on into their future years," Hill said. "(Greiner) was, I think, very fond of teaching, clearly good at what he did and very enthusiastic."

Another student, Dave Plank of Goshen, studied under Greiner at Goshen High School in the early 1960s. It was Greiner's influence that got Plan interested in teaching music himself, and Plank later became band director at Goshen.

"He was always pleasant and always encouraging; he always had a big smile on his face," Plank. "He was a gentleman and he had this huge voice. That’s what I remember about him, a huge booming voice."

While Greiner was at Goshen High School in the early 1960s, he created one of Elkhart County's first show choirs, the Crimsonaires. 

"It was a pretty big deal," Debbie Richmond, Greiner's daughter said.

She remembers being a young girl when her father would bring the Crimsonaires over to their home to practice their performance.

Greiner didn't talk much about teaching to his family, but it was obvious that he loved his students and loved teaching music, they said.

And that feeling was mutual. 

"He was a teacher kids liked," Richmond said. 

Greiner taught music at Goshen High School from 1960 to 1967 and at three Elkhart schools (Beardsley, North Side and Central) from 1968 to his retirement in 1985. 

After retiring from teaching, Greiner stayed involved in music through participating in several Elkhart community choirs and church singing groups.

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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