District 214's Sandlund remembered as 'progressive' leader, 'music man'

  • Howard Sandlund

    Howard Sandlund

By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent

Exactly 50 years ago, Prospect High School band director Howard Sandlund led its marching band to an appearance in the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 67, the World's Fair in Montreal.

The excursion came just 10 years after the school opened, and it was the first of what would be many international trips for the award-winning band program.

Sandlund, a resident of Carol Stream, passed away Wednesday in Winfield. He was 88.

"He built an excellent band program and laid the foundation for the excellent program it is today, I believe," said Edward Spacapan, who served as principal of Prospect High School at the time.

"But it was the relationships he had with students and other faculty members that I remember," Spacapan added. "He got along so well with everyone that I made him an assistant principal."

Sandlund's long career with Northwest Suburban High School District 214 began in 1964, when he was hired to direct the band at Prospect. And it included a number of other roles, including serving as the principal at Rolling Meadows High School.

He grew up in Chicago and attended Senn High School, where he played trumpet in the band. Sandlund came to the Northwest suburbs, like many of his colleagues, after studying at the University of Illinois.

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He led Prospect's band program one more year after its Montreal trip before joining the administration, first as assistant principal for student activities and from 1974 to 1985 as assistant principal for instructional services.

"At the time, it was a fairly unusual career move to go from band director into administration," said Jack Martin, a colleague and former longtime administrator with District 214, "but his warmth and personality made it an easy transition."

Sandlund would go on to serve for two years as associate principal at Wheeling High School, before being named principal at Rolling Meadows High School in 1988. Sandlund retired in 1993, after serving nearly 30 years in the district.

When Sandlund retired, it was the same year as Leo Hundt from Elk Grove High School and Marv Christensen from Buffalo Grove High School. With half of the district's high school principals retiring the same year, it signaled the beginning of a new era, colleagues said.


"(Sandlund) was a great educator and very progressive," said Robert Cudney, former assistant superintendent for personnel in District 214, "always supportive of new opportunities for students."

Faculty and students alike were drawn to Sandlund for his openness and positive attitude, colleagues said.

"Howard was a kind, gentle person, who was always upbeat and supportive of his faculty and of the students," Martin added, "but he was really a music man at heart."

Sandlund is survived by his wife, Joy, and children: Suzanne (Richard) Olson, Lynne (Larry) Tellschow, Laurie (Doug) Hedlund, Tom, Kathy Woods, Debra (Greg) Stipe, and Gary (Lisa); as well as 21 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

A funeral service will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at the College Church at Wheaton College, located at 332 E. Seminary Ave. in Wheaton.

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