Gaynelle Burdette Derr


January 12, 1954 (Riverside, California) —December 13, 2017 (Edmonds, Washington)


image of Gaynell Burdette Derr

Gaynell Burdette Derr

Gaynelle pursued life with passion.  Her social justice roots working among migrant farm-workers in the Coachella Valley of Southern California drew her first to politics, then to education, where she found her true calling as she watched her students each year discover their own voice and their own, often unrecognized, potential.   She taught in the Seattle Public Schools, Kings High School, and finished her teaching career teaching English at Mountlake Terrace High School.  She brought laughter, spontaneity, play and extravagant generosity to her family—and opened her home to dozens, if not hundreds  of others she considered family.

She rejoiced in seeing her two daughters grow up to be strong, independent, competent women, and found no greater joy these past few years than in the hugs and laughter from her grandchildren.

Gaynelle faced declining health with grace and a confident faith that carried all of those around her.   While saddened by our current separation, the family finds peace and comfort knowing that she is singing and dancing in heaven.

Gaynelle’s memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 13, 2018, at 2:00 pm at Bethany Presbyterian Church, 1818 Queen Anne Ave. North, in Seattle.

In lieu of flowers, the family is establishing a scholarship fund at Mountlake Terrace High School in Gaynelle’s memory—to continue her legacy of discovering and unlocking potential through education.  For anyone wishing to contribute to the memorial fund, tax-deductible contributions can be made to “The Foundation for Edmonds School District” PO Box 390, Lynnwood, WA  98046, designated for the “Gaynelle Derr MTHS Memorial Scholarship Fund”.

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