Charles Lynn Wheeler

 1943 - 2019

Lynn Wheeler was a Seventh-day Adventist music educator and performer who taught for over fifty years in two academies and at Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, and Pacific Union College. He taught at WAU for four years and at PUC for a record 45 years before retiring in 2017. He served as music chair at PUC for 24 years - the longest tenure in music chairmanship there since Noah Paulin, who had retired in 1944 after thirty years as chair.
Lynn was born on July 4, 1943, 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 (Bobbie) Eberman Wheeler. Although his parents were not 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, studying with a neighbor, Ruth Lafayette. He then continued at Columbia Academy, taking piano lessons from Frankie Booth Reis, Mordent Goodnough, and Lillian Pettibone.  While he had initially planned to attend Laurelwood Academy, following a visit from Archie Devitt, band director at Columbia Academy, and an offer to work as his band assistant, he went there instead. He later talked about that experience:
I enjoyed working for Archie 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 asked me to teach piano at the academy, which I did for that school year before enrolling at WWC the next school year.
Lynn majored in music with piano as his performance area, studying with Blythe Owen, Bruce Ashton, and Richard Randolph. While at WWC, he met Charlaine Patricia Amey, a secretarial science major and music minor in piano. She completed a B.A. in 1965 and taught at La Sierra Academy for a year while Lynn completed a B.Mus. in piano at WWC and was honored with membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honor society.
They both accepted positions at Portland Union Academy, now Portland Adventist Academy, in the summer of 1966 and married on August 14.  They would perform piano duets and as a piano duo in the years that followed in the U.S. and Canada.  After teaching at PUA for a year they moved to Takoma Park, Maryland, where he accepted a music position at Columbia Union College in 1967 and she became an instructor at the college a year later.
While teaching at CUC, he completed a Master of Music (M.Mus.) in piano performance at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1970. He accepted a position at Pacific Union College in 1971 to teach piano and music history and completed a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) in piano performance at the University of Oregon in 1976. He would later take lessons from and study in master classes with noted pianists Leon Fleischer, Charles Rosen, Lili Krause, Stewart Gordon, Francis Bittner, Bernard Abramowitch, and Julian White.
While at UO the Wheelers had a daughter, Charlynn, and Charlaine completed an M.Ed. in business education.  She would then teach at Oregon State University, and Lane Community, Pacific Union, and Napa Valley colleges.
Lynn became chair of the PUC music department in 1986 and in the next 24 years upgraded its keyboard resources and gained membership for the program in Pi Kappa Lambda, a distinction enjoyed by only two hundred colleges and universities worldwide. He also served as an onsite evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Music for over twenty years, fifteen of those as team leader on the visits.
Lynn enjoyed teaching piano and music history, performing, and conducting. His wife and daughter wrote at the time of his death:
He practiced long hours preparing a concerto a year in advance, memorizing from the back of the score to the front of the music score, and spending hours in rehearsals. Audiences watched in awe as his ten fingers flew over 66 black and white keys - whether he was playing a concerto with an orchestra, accompanying a string quartet/quintet or vocal/instrumental soloist, or playing a novelty song with an orange used to play the right hand melody.
Lynn 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 won in state, regional, and national competitions and are teaching at academies, colleges, and universities, and in private studios around the world.
He is listed in the Piano Guild U.S.A. Hall of Fame because of the large number of his students who auditioned for membership in that organization.  He also participated in several summer music camps sponsored by PUC, featuring noted guest artists such as Ruth Slenczynska, Lili Krause, and Adele Marcus. He also coordinated annual Spring Piano Festivals that involved the best academy-age players from Northern California academies, high schools, and home schools.  
Lynn was listed in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities, the International Who's Who in Music and Musicians DirectoryAmerican Keyboard Artists, and Who's Who in Entertainment. He 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 and was a charter member of the International Adventist Musicians Association (IAMA), serving as its president from 2009 to 2019.
He enjoyed gardening, birding, cooking, and hiking and over the years hiked much of the Pacific Crest Trail. He traveled widely in Europe and the U.S. and with his daughter, Charlynn, visited all fifty states and all but one of the Canadian provinces.
The music department and college honored Lynn for his service during the PUC Alumni Weekend in April 2017 with a recital featuring three of his students. The following week, he was awarded professor emeritus status during chapel. He continued to teach part-time until that fall when he suffered a stroke, the result of brain cancer.
The Wheelers were living in Roseville, California, when Lynn died on April 11, 2019, at age 75. He was survived by Charlaine, his wife of 52 years; their daughter and son-in-law, Charlynn and Curtis Cundy; granddaughter, Cassandra Lyn Cundy; four sisters; and eight nieces and nephews. He requested a family private burial at Sandridge Cemetery near Lebanon, Oregon, overlooking Peterson Butte, where he used to climb as a boy.
Sources: Interviews, October and November 2013; email, June 5, 2017;  "Weddings," North Pacific Union Gleaner, December 12, 1966, 14.; "Instructor in Secretarial Science: Mrs. Charlaine Wheeler," Columbia Union Visitor, October 31, 1968, 20; Charlaine Wheeler and Charlynn Wheeler Cundy, "The Story of Charles Lynn Wheeler,"; Personal knowledge, I served as website and publications editor for IAMA during the time of his presidency; Charlaine Wheeler, phone conversations and email exchanges with me in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Ode to Lynn Wheeler: God takes only the Best
    Charlaine (Amey) Wheeler  
God saw Lynn was getting tired after 16 months of brain cancer treatment,
The doctors said a cure was not to be.
So He put his arm around him and  whispered, "Come unto Me."
Through tearful eyes we watched him struggle and saw him fade away.
Although we all loved Lynn, it was clear he wasn't going to stay.
On the morn of April 11, 2019, his gentle heart stopped beating,
His hard working and talented piano hands were laid upon his chest.
It broke our hearts but proved to us . . .
God only takes the best.
After thoughts . . . Charlaine Wheeler 
We prayed for healing if it was God's will. Our granddaughter, Cassie, sang in the Orange vale Girls' chorus. It was her eighth grade year.  They sang the beautiful song, "Healing Rain," just for us several times and she sang the solo part.  Our family would sit in the church pews with tears, but not Lynn.  He would always say, "Remember if I'm not healed on this earth, I'll be healed on Resurrection morning.  And I want to see you all there - what a day that will be! And then we'll be caught up with angels to heaven - just think of the glorious music!" We believe Lynn will be one of God's pianists . . .only the best! Lynn's favorite Bible verse: "Whosoever believeth in God shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
The family gathered as he wished on his July 4th birthday this summer to celebrate his life and legacy, playing CDs of him playing Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata 8, Opus 13, the middle movement; the hymn he arranged "I'm But a Stranger Here, Heaven Is My Home" and Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb minor, Op. 23 when he played it with the PUC orchestra.  
Lynn Wheeler, President, IAMA  . . .   Dan Shultz
July 4, 1943 - April 11, 2019
The death of Lynn Wheeler three months ago was for me a deeply felt personal loss. Lynn in his role as IAMA president and I as editor of our publications had worked closely for a decade. Although I had known him for over three decades, during those ten years we became better acquainted and close friends as we met the challenges of running IAMA. I found him to be thoughtful, a person who cared deeply about colleagues, students, and friends, but above of all, his family.
We shared our feelings of sadness over the passing of professional colleagues, friends, and mentors, and yes, students whose lives ended at an early age. We also frequently talked about the decreases we had witnessed in music programs in both SDA and public secondary and higher education during our careers.
At the time of IAMA president Elsie Buck's death, Lynn wrote, "It is terrible how death can steal so much from us, including memories hidden in their minds. As Brahms quoted from I Peter 1:24, 'Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras' . . . .Yes, every one of us is like the grass that blooms and then withers."  
"In my own life there have been many mentors, wise and trusted teachers who inspired us to follow in their footsteps . . . Some inspired us to try to pattern our lives after what we observed in their lives, and these are the great mentors we want to remember. . . Take a few moments to remember those who have been an inspiration in your life. Be thankful for how they helped prepare you for a life of service."
I was upset when I learned about Lynn's terminal brain cancer diagnosis in January 2018, shortly after his retirement. I was inspired by the courage he and his wife Charlaine and their family displayed as they faced the decline in his health over the next several months.
In the president's message he penned in the Summer 2017 Online Notes, he wrote, "To those who have lost loved ones you might find the following memory verse my wife and I found in our granddaughter's school work comforting: 'Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us spend them as we should.'" In this fast-changing world today we look forward to the time spoken of in I Corinthians 15:51, 52 "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump . . ."
The Wheelers were living in Roseville, California, when Lynn died on April 11, 2019, at age 75. He was survived by Charlaine, his wife of 52 years; their daughter and son-in-law, Charlynn and Curtis Cundy; granddaughter, Cassandra Lynn Cundy; four sisters; and eight nieces and nephews. He requested a private family burial at Sandridge Cemetery near Lebanon, Oregon, overlooking Peterson Butte, where he used to climb as a boy looking for the family's sheep near the farm where he grew up and loved.
July 2019