Off The Press
July 28, 2009
By Chantelle Lusebrink
Remembering a woman with gifts and passion
Stories come full circle, whether we’re prepared or not. Today is an example of that. Former Issaquah School District teacher Linda Snyder, 59, lost her seven-year battle with ovarian cancer July 17.
It’s the last chapter of a story about a woman I greatly admired for her courage, kindness, faith and determination.
I met Linda two weeks into my job in 2006. The story was simple: Four fifth-graders reached within themselves to help a teacher who’d made a significant impact on them by donating their hair to Locks of Love and raising funds to help with her medical expenses.
Linda agreed to meet with me about that, but during the interview, the first question was asked by her. With the slightly authoritative air that only teachers have, she asked what angle I would pursue for a story. Her concern was that her students were reflected well.
From that moment, I knew exactly why her students were so determined to help.
After the story was done, I had lunch with her several times to check on her. She never liked that idea, so we met and talked about her two boys, Craig Thompson, 30, and Richard Thompson, 28, my life as a young reporter and my mother, who had health issues at the time.
“That was Linda,” said Alexis Davison, a longtime friend, colleague and teacher. “She was always helping other people and was a great listener.”
Though it had been some time since I had seen her, I learned in an e-mail that she had passed away. I was pleased to know the rest of her life had been full of joy, philanthropy, travel, friends and family.
“She spent a lot of time traveling,” Craig Thompson said. “All she could do was lay in the house and go to the doctor’s office. She loved to travel and it was a huge thing for her to look forward to.”
But traveling wasn’t easy.
She needed a wheelchair for herself, and another to wheel a virtual pharmacy and hospital along with her. Finally getting through security on their way to places like the Mexican Riviera, Acapulco, Hawaii, Colorado and California, gave the boys immense pleasure.
Aside from travel, Linda wanted to see her sons settle and become successful. In the past few years they found their path, which made her really proud, Davison said.
“Even in the darkest times, she’d sit and look for the positive and help us work through them,” Richard Thompson said. “That is how I continue to live for her, by keeping her philosophy.”
The community came together to celebrate that passion at her celebration of life service at Faith United Methodist Church July 21, followed by a picnic on Lake Washington.
Linda taught for 18 years in Kent, Texas, Montana, Utah and Germany. She came to Issaquah as a special-education teacher at Beaver Lake Middle School in 2000 and retired as a fourth-grade teacher at Cascade Ridge Elementary School in June 2008.
“She was a special person with an amazing passion,” Davison said. “She worked incredibly well with them. It takes a special person to work with special kids for 20 years.”
Her legacy continues there. Colleagues still use her Hopes and Dreams program, which interviews parents and students about their goals for the academic year. She also tutored students through last month.
Linda’s family has asked that donations be made to the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer at Swedish Hospital in her memory.
Her sister-in-law, Andrea Snyder, ran in honor of Linda at the center’s 10-kilometer race July 26.
“It was tough,” she said, adding she wore a T-shirt from one of Linda’s events and a bracelet her students had made for her. “I would think of how strong she was and that was the kind of strong I wanted. She did so much in the time she was here and touched so many people.”
Checks can for the center can be sent to Andrea Snyder at 9625 S.E. 71st St., Mercer Island, WA 98040. Make them out to the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research.
Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or email@example.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.