Charles Lynn Wheeler
Lynn Wheeler, pianist, has taught in Seventh-day Adventist schools for over fifty years, teaching at 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 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 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 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. While he initially planned to attend Laurelwood Academy, which was closer to his home, a visit from Archie Devitt led him to go to Columbia Academy, where he assisted in the band program at that school:
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 Randolph. During his time at WWC, he met Charlaine Amey, a secretarial science major and music minor, and they married in 1966, following graduation. They then 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. He accepted a position at Pacific Union College in 1971 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 PUC music department in 1986 and for the next 24 years led the department, upgrading its keyboard resources and gaining membership for the department in Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honor society, a distinction enjoyed by only two hundred colleges and universities worldwide. He also served as a representative for the National Association of Schools of Music as an onsite evaluator for NASM for over twenty years, fifteen of those as chair on the visits.
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 world.
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 also participated in several summer music camps sponsored by PUC, featuring such guest artists as Ruth Slenczynska, Lili Krause, Adele Marcus, and others.
Annually, he coordinated a Spring Piano Festival and invited the best academy-age players from Northern California academies, high schools, and home schools. He and his wife invited 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 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. The Wheelers have one daughter, Charlynn.
Sources: Interview, October 2013 and other information provided in November 2013 and by email, June 5, 2017; personal knowledge.