BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN While it’s been four years since Jacob Quam lived in Montrose and attended Delano Public Schools, many local residents are remembering him and mourning his loss after he was killed in a crash with a semi while driving to school in Henning to lift weights early April 13.
“Jacob’s death is one of those tragedies that kicks you in the gut,” Delano Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Joe Schleper said. “He had such tremendous potential and was someone you would always root for.”
Schleper said everyone who knew Quam liked him.
DES third-grade teacher Leah Petersen agreed, saying, “He was so polite and did very well in school academically and socially. He made friends easily.”
Jim Hall said Quam made real connections with those around him.
“Everyone that met him realized quickly that his friendship was real and unwavering,” Hall said.
As Hall joined hundreds of friends and family members to pack into the Henning High School gymnasium to memorialize the 16 year old, he saw firsthand the impact Quam had had on others.
“While my family visited Henning for the wake service, it was very apparent that Jacob’s basketball team shared in that same close connection,” Hall said. “The Henning basketball team decided that they would stay overnight with Jacob’s mother in order to keep her company and to honor the friend they had lost. My son, Dylan, and (classmate) Garrett Robinson were invited to join the team. The Delano boys were immediately pulled into the group and treated like teammates.”
“I would say that it was surprising to hear how complete strangers could come together without hesitation, but I wasn’t,” Hall continued. “I knew the type of friendships that Jacob created and how he made everything he touched better.”
Sandy Schansberg said, “Jacob was and will always be in our hearts and our minds.”
She got to know Quam, as he was a good friend to her son, Cole.
“He quickly became like another member of the family, as Cole became at his home,” Schansberg said.
Several positive adjectives come to mind when she describes Quam.
“He was considerate, respectful, fun, smart, witty, talented, and had a fun sense of humor,” Schansberg said. “I can still picture him laughing, shooting hoops, playing video games, etc. with Cole and the neighbor kids.”
Yes, it was clear Quam loved sports like basketball and football, but he loved his family more, as evidenced by poems he wrote in Schleper’s class.
“He adored his parents and was an all-around good son, student, and friend,” Schansberg said. “Everything Jacob did, he did to his full potential and made his parents, family members, and others very proud.”
Petersen said, even in third grade, it was very easy to see that he was going to be successful in anything he chose to do.
Meredith Huikko remembers teaching Quam in kindergarten.
“When I first heard about Jacob’s accident this weekend and saw his picture, I instantly pictured a Jacob 10 years younger,” Huikko said Tuesday. “ . . . Reading all the information about him and stories that his current friends, teachers, and coaches have shared online and in newspapers, it sounds like that is the type of person he remained. It is so sad his life was taken so soon. I’m sure he would have done amazing things.”
Phil Kern, who coached Quam’s sixth-grade basketball team echoed that sentiment.
“Even though he moved away a few years ago, his passing has hit his former teammates and friends very hard,” Kern said. “Since his death, I’ve read all the wonderful things people in the Henning area have said about him, and it’s the same wonderful traits we all got to see in his time here. It’s a tremendous loss and a heartbreaking tragedy for his family and friends.”