Music instructor earns Spirit Award
Long-time resident singing a sweet tune
Leave the rock 'n' roll at home. Bring everything else.
There's something about music that stokes the fire inside Basehor resident Wilma James and her interests vary from classical to country.
"I love music because it satisfies my emotions, it gives me excitement," James said. "The main reason I love music is its creativity. It expresses emotion and it can create your whole life as far as I'm concerned."
It's that passion for music as well as James other calling -- teaching young pupils -- that landed her lofty recognition at Tuesday night's Basehor Fourth of July celebration, where she was named the first recipient of the city's Spirit Award.
Based on a nomination letter on James' behalf, it's easy to see why judges handed her the prestigious award.
"Wilma James is an amazing woman," the letter reads. "Generations upon generations have taken lessons from her over the past four decades. The children are always met at her house with encouragement and a great smile on her face. . . It is truly spectacular to see how many lives that one woman can affect.
"Each student becomes part of her own family. She has truly touched many lives with her precious spirit."
James said she was more than just a little surprised to receive the award.
"I was in a state of shock," she said. "It was very exciting and I felt quite honored. I was very gratified, surprised and very elated."
James has lived in Basehor for the last 45 years. She taught public school for more than 40 years and retired from the Turner School District in 2001. She has given music lessons from her home since 1957.
"I do it to make a difference in each child's life and inspire them," James said. "You have to love children to teach. They inspire me."
While James finds inspiration in the students she teaches, it seems she fills a void for them as well.
"So many of the children (she teaches) do not have grandparents," according to the nomination letter. "This is a void that Mrs. James fills as well. The children look forward to their weekly lessons for her hospitality."
James said she doesn't plan to stop teaching music any time soon.
"Not until I have to," she said. "Music is part of my life. It's my devotion."