Charles Lynn Wheeler
Lynn Wheeler, pianist, has taught in Seventh-day Adventist schools for nearly fifty years. During that time he has taught at two academies and at Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, and Pacific Union College. He is still teaching at PUC, where he has taught for a record 43 years. He also served as music chair for 24 years - the longest tenure in music chairmanship there since Noah Paulin retired in 1944 after thirty years as chair.
Lynn was born in Lebanon, Oregon, and raised on a large farm near Brownsville, Oregon, the oldest of five children and the only son of Charles Bland and W. Roberta Eberman Wheeler. Although neither of his parents were musicians, his mother’s sister, Gustin, and her husband, Don McConnel, were musically active as members of the Sojourners, a singing group from the Portland, Oregon, area. A cousin, Robert Roy, was an accomplished violinist.
Lynn started piano lessons at eight and studied with a neighbor, Ruth Lafayette. He then continued at Columbia Academy, taking piano lessons from Frankie Booth Reis, Mordent Goodnough, and Lillian Pettibone. Although he initially had planned on going to Laurelwood Academy, which was closer to his home, he met CA’s band director, Archie Devitt, who visited with him at the farm and invited him to assist in the band program at CA:
Archie was attending the University of Oregon as a graduate student, where he met my school clarinet teacher, who told him about me and expressed regret that I wasn’t going to public high school but was attending an academy. He visited with me in August at the farm just before school started and offered me a job working for him as his “Band Aide” if I would attend Columbia.
I enjoyed working for him and he soon had me playing trombone, trumpet and other instruments. I even bought my own oboe, thinking I might pursue a career as a band director. When he moved to Campion Academy at the beginning of my senior year, I followed him and graduated from there in 1961. Although I intended to go to Walla Walla College, now University, that fall just before the school year started the principal at Campion invited me to teach piano at the academy, which I did for most of that school year. The next school year I enrolled at WWC.
Wheeler majored in music education with piano as his performance area, studying with Blythe Owen, Bruce Ashton, and Richard Randolf. During his time at WWC, he met Charlaine Amey, a secretarial science major and music minor, and they married in 1966. Following graduation in 1966, they accepted positions at Portland Union Academy, now Portland Adventist Academy, where they taught for one year before he accepted a position at Columbia Union College.
While teaching at CUC, he completed an M.Mus. in piano performance at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1970. In 1971 he accepted a position at Pacific Union College, where he continues to teach piano and music history.
Wheeler completed a D.M.A. in piano performance at the University of Oregon in 1976. He has taken lessons from and studied in master classes with Leon Fleischer, Charles Rosen, Lili Krause, Stewart Gordon, Francis Bittner, Bernard Abramowitch, and Julian White.
He became chair of the music department in 1986. For the next 24 years he led the department, upgrading its keyboard instruments and gaining membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honor society, a distinction enjoyed by only two hundred colleges and universities worldwide. He has also served as a representative for the National Association of Schools of Music and an evaluator for NASM in over twenty reviews of schools that are members of that accrediting association or were seeking membership.
Wheeler has conducted master classes and concertized extensively both as a soloist and an accompanist throughout the U.S. and in several foreign countries. Many of his students have won in state, regional, and national competitions and are teaching at academies, colleges and universities, and in private studios around the globe.
He is listed in the Piano Guild U.S.A. Hall of Fame because of the large number of his students who have auditioned for membership in that organization. He has also participated in a number of summer music camps sponsored by the college where guest artists such as Ruth Slenczynska, Lili Krause, Adele Marcus, and others were featured.
Each year he coordinates a Spring Piano Festival and invites the best academy-age players from Northern California academies, high schools, and home schools. He and his wife invite the students and their teachers to their home on Friday evening for a meal and fellowship.
Wheeler is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, having been inducted as a charter member in 1962 during his junior year at WWC. He is a charter member of the International Adventist Musicians Association and has served as its president since 2009.
He has been listed in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities, the International Who's Who in Music and Musicians Directory, American Keyboard Artists, and Who's Who in Entertainment. He has served as President of both the Napa Branch of the Music Teachers Association of California and District Seven (Redwood Empire) of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers.
Charlaine Wheeler completed an M.Ed. in business education at Oregon State University and taught at La Sierra and Portland academies, Oregon State University, Lane Community, Pacific Union, and Napa Valley colleges. She is now partially retired. They have one daughter.
Sources: Interview, October 2013 and information provided in November 2013; personal knowledge.