Walter Lynn Edmiston

In the presence of his loving wife and family members, Walter Edmiston died peacefully on July 20, 2018, following complications from surgery and a fight against cancer that stretched across four decades.

Walt is survived by Ina, his wife of 64 years, his children Laurie (Glenn) Griffin, Steve (Melody) Edmiston, and John (Becky) Edmiston; his grandchildren Taylor, Paige, Madison, Jazmine, and Xander; and his sister Elinor. He was pre-deceased by his parents John C. and Hazel Edmiston, his brother Alan, and his daughter Peggy.

Walt led a remarkable life. He was born on May 24, 1933, the third of three children, and he grew up in Marshall, Washington. Like others of his era, the family was both strained by the hardships of the Depression and blessed by the happiness of a small-town life. His mother was a teacher so education was paramount. School suited Walt; he skipped two grades and graduated from Cheney High School at 16. Being younger than his high school peers, he struggled to compete in sports. But he persisted as an athlete, and sports – particularly baseball – joined education as a passion of his life. Walt graduated from Eastern Washington College of Education and met Ina while student teaching. They married in August, 1953.

He was drafted within the year. Like so many of his peers, plans for teaching – and life – were placed on hold. After basic training at Camp Pendleton, Walt was selected for Army Security Agent School. At Fort Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts, he learned Morse code. Walt then served with the 330th Communications Reconnaissance Company in Korea, and he received a Soldier of the Month award – and a highly-prized leave in Japan – in competition with all units of the 501st. His experience in Korea became inspiration for one of his greatest gifts – storyteller.

Walt began his teaching career in the Highline School District at Puget Sound Middle School, where he also coached football. In 1963, Walt began teaching history and economics at Tyee High School, where he remained until retirement in 1989. Along the way, he earned a Master’s Degree in Education, coached baseball, refereed basketball, taught drivers’ ed, and, when Tyee launched girls’ basketball, he coached the team. As teacher and coach Walt was methodical, cerebral, competitive, playful, and effective.  Walt was tough and fair, was a mentor to many students and players, and it was through his intellectual curiosity, teaching and coaching that his mastery of storytelling and ability to inspire others was perfected.

Walt loved to travel. Summers meant family road-trips and camping – including frequent visits to relatives in Eastern Washington and to a family cabin on Lake Cocolalla among his favorites. Special trips to Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, and the Washington coast added to the mix. Walt’s “range” as a traveler soon became unlimited when Walt and Ina began to chaperone student abroad programs to Europe and a host foreign exchange students in their home. It was here that Walt and Ina’s family literally grew, because by any measure based on love, the family soon included our beloved German exchange students Silke and Dagmar and their families.

On the day he retired, Walt was discovered on a golf course by a talent scout and began modeling. His “leading man look” lent naturally to being cast as lawyers, doctors, airline pilots, CEOs, and – perhaps best of all – world cruise ship traveler on multiple occasions. Free cruises were part of his compensation, and Walt and Ina took full advantage – traveling to ports of call all over the globe. They fell in love with a resort in Mexico and returned every year for sun and beaches.

Walt’s finest role may have been the resiliency and grace with which he battled cancers.  The latter half of his life was impacted by this disease but it never defined him. His dignity and love of family were never hostage to his struggle.

He loved root beer floats, Ina’s potato salad, and grilling burgers. He loved to bet a milkshake on anything and taking trips to Reno. He did not like bananas, liver, or coffee (except while in the military, when drinking coffee came with a work break).

Walt faithfully attended Southminster Presbyterian Church for six decades and, as our patriarch, he routinely led us in family prayer.

He lived a real-life “wonderful life.” We believe he left his ravaged body for a better place. But, we miss him so.

A celebration of Walt’s life will be held on August 25, 2018, at 1 p.m. at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 19834 8th Avenue South, Des Moines WA.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Des Moines Food Bank, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, or Southminster Presbyterian Church.

Here is a link to Walt’s obituary in The Seattle Times.

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