December 19, 1922 – November 27, 2016




Lynn Waller passed away peacefully on November 27, just short of his 94th birthday.

He was known and loved in the Pacific Northwest for his innovative work over 35 years as an educator, Principal at Shorecrest and Shoreline High Schools, Associate Exec Director of the Association of Washington Principals, President of Lake City Rotary and Trustee of the College Board.  He loved the outdoors, especially skiing and camping, and passionately planted Sequoia trees.


Lynn was born in Columbus, Ohio to Adolph Edward Waller, a botanist and professor at The Ohio State University, and Marie Hertenstein Waller, a concert pianist.  The eldest of three boys, Lynn was inspired to value culture, science, politics, business, history, global concerns, and intellectual tolerance, and encouraged to develop lifelong friendships and personal interests.


Lynn graduated from the Columbus Academy, attended Williams College, served 4 years in the Navy in WWII, and graduated from The Ohio State University1948. He participated in one of the first student exchanges to Europe after the war, attending the University of Zurich in 1949, where he met lifelong friends and honed his skiing ability.  He moved to Seattle in 1949, received his teaching credential and began his career as an educator.  He received his Masters in Education at UW in 1955, and pursued a doctorate at Stanford University, focusing on the “new” field of educational testing.


In 1949, Lynn and his future wife, Marlys Swenson, were hired to co-manage the Seattle Ski Club at Snoqualamie Summit.  So began a lifetime of shared loves –for each other, skiing and hiking in the mountains of the Northwest, and involvement in community organizations.  Lynn and Marlys married in 1950 and raised their four children in Lake Forest Park.  Lynn enthusiastically introduced his children to downhill skiing.  Along with Marlys, he taught Valley Publishing ski school for over 20 years, and the family belonged to Skiers, Inc. at Crystal Mountain where they spent many a winter weekend.  Camping, hiking, and canoeing found their way into the family’s regular activities. Lynn and Marlys owned land on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands for 50 years, and retired there in 1987.


Lynn’s 1949 start in teaching coincided with the inception of a brand new school district –The Shoreline Public Schools.  Beginning as a history teacher with 7th graders at Jane Addams Junior High School, then counselor at Morgan Junior High, Lynn’s opportunities expanded as the district grew and the boundaries changed.  He was brought on board as a counselor to open Shoreline High School in 1956 and became vice principal in 1960.  In 1961 he was part of the team assigned to open the next high school, Shorecrest, where he served as vice principal and became the principal in 1967. Lynn was instrumental in the development of many school traditions, and the school’s Highlander theme.  He wrote the Chief of the Gordon Clan in Scotland for permission for the school to wear the Gordon tartan. With that, pipers, drummers, dancers, and a full-kilted marching band began the Shorecrest Highlander tradition of a “clan” which exists to this day.   He enthusiastically supported students’ development and achievements, and was highly visible at innumerable assemblies, concerts, sports events, famously led cheers with the pep squad (Let’s Do a little bit of It!), and tap-tapped the school’s PA system mic, and said “Good Morning” before the announcements of the day.  He planted a Sequoia tree on the school property for each graduating class during his tenure. He resonated with innovators, individualists, coaches, teachers–no matter the subject, and built teams.  He is remembered for adapting programs to fit nontraditional pathways in learning, including starting Shorecrest’s alternative education program.  His motto was “To Thine Own Self Be True”.


In 1978 after 17 years at Shorecrest, Lynn returned to Shoreline High School, where he remained as principal until 1984 when that school was closed due to changing demographics. Following his retirement from the Shoreline Public Schools, he served as Associate Executive Director of the Association of Washington Principals through 1986.


In 1970 Lynn was appointed by Governor Daniel J. Evans to the White House Conference on Children and Youth, where he served as Planning Chairman. In 1976 he served on the state committee on student rights, overseeing the rewrite of WAC 180-40.  From 1978 – 1981 Lynn served on the Executive Committee of the Western Region of The College Board, and as a national trustee from 1982 – 1986.  Lynn was active in Lake City Rotary and served as President.


Lynn and Marlys have been members of the University Congregational Church for 65 years and served in many volunteer capacities, starting with leading the high school youth group in the early 1950’s.  He and Marlys led a monthly “Fireside Group,” a group that remained in tact, continuing to meet monthly, for over 50 years, and these friends are cherished by generations among us.


In 1987, Lynn and Marlys moved to Lopez Island where they built a home and resided through 2013.  During these 25+ years, Lynn did what he always did–ski, camp, canoe, attend community activities and invest his leadership skills in community organizations, and plant trees. He loved tracking the weather, native plants, and animal life such as the growing eagle population. He was instrumental in building the dream for the Lopez Center for Community and the Arts, a project for which he served as Chairman.  In 2011 Lynn received the Lopez Spirit Award–shared with co-recipient Marlys, affirmation of the ways Lopez Island captured and held his heart.  The Lopez School District Volunteer of the Year award was named after Lynn.


At the end of 2013, Lynn & Marlys moved off Lopez Island, to be closer to family and medical support.  With Marlys, they made a new home on the East Side of Lake Washington.  These years found Lynn alert and kind, and still loving and remembering everyone and everything he always loved.  As a passenger on many treasured scenic drives, Lynn always oriented his driver and knew the exact place to turn.


Lynn Theodore WallerLynn is survived by his wife of 65 years, Marlys Swenson Waller, and his four children and 10 grandchildren, as follow:  Kristina (Michael) Golden with sons, Ben and Alex; Johanna (Paul) Dakopolos with sons Andy (Farah) and Matt; Erica Lynne Waller with sons Theodore, Connor, and Henry; Peter (Denise) Waller with Kimberly, Zachary, and Lucas.  Lynn is also survived by his brother Michael (Dorothy) Waller of Cincinnati, and predeceased by his brother Edward Waller of Columbus.


Memorial service on the Winter Solstice, Wednesday, Dec 21 at 1:30 pm, University Congregational Church, 4515 16th Ave NE, Seattle 98105,

Internment at Lopez Island Community Cemetery, spring 2017.


To honor Lynn, the family suggests donations to The Lopez Center for Community and the Arts, PO Box 291, Lopez Island, WA 98261,

The Waller Biological Sciences Greenhouse Fund at The Ohio State University Foundation, 1480 West Lane Avenue, Columbus, OH, 43221, or plant a tree.



  • Heather Arps says:

    Sending my love and gratitude for the many years of community living with Lynn in the lead. A great dancer, laugh-er and local historian, I am honored to have spent time with him and send my love to the family.
    Heather Arps and Family.

  • Rick Weber says:

    Sorry to hear of Lynn’s passing, a wonderful man and honored to know him…a great friend to my parents…Love to all the Waller family 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please be respectful. Disrespectful comments will not be published

When you have successfully submitted a comment, look in the space above to see your comment.

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

If you do not see your comment, click HERE