Edmonds teacher, Nixon’s sister-in-law, dies at 76

LYNNWOOD — Ed Nixon remembers his wife working late at school, and staying up past midnight to grade homework. A longtime teacher in the Edmonds district, Gay Lynne Nixon also loved music.

For nearly 30 years, she was a no-nonsense math teacher in the Edmonds School District. After retiring in 1995, she helped students conquer math as a private tutor.

Gay Nixon died Jan. 20 at her Lynnwood home. She was 76, and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

In one way, she was unlike countless teachers who work to help students succeed. She was at home in a classroom, but had also been an overnight guest at the White House. Her brother-in-law was President Richard Nixon. Ed Nixon 83, is the youngest sibling of the former president, who died in 1994.

“Gay Lynne was my lovely, attentive and giving partner for 57 years. I miss her dearly,” Ed Nixon said in a statement released late last week by the Richard Nixon Foundation, which supports programs at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, Calif. “We had wonderful years together, many on the campaign trail with my brother.”

Gay Nixon started with the Edmonds School District in 1967, the year before Richard Nixon was elected president. She taught math at Meadowdale Junior High, then at Woodway High School.

From 1988 until she retired in 1995, she taught math at Lynnwood High School, according to Oscar Halpert, a community relations assistant with the Edmonds district.

“She made sure she knew every student. As a teacher, her door was always open,” Ed Nixon said Friday. He said his wife “wouldn’t put up with any discipline nonsense,” but that she found ways to provide math help where it was most needed.

Nixon said he met Gay Lynne Woods when he was in Pensacola, Fla., for flight training with the U.S. Navy. He drove to New Orleans for a blind date. His future wife, who graduated from Tulane University with a chemistry degree, grew up in Algiers, La., on the Mississippi River in the New Orleans area. “Gay stood out to me. She was so bright,” he said. “We were married June 1, 1957.”

By 1960, they were in the Northwest. Ed Nixon worked at the University of Washington as an ROTC instructor. They lived in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1960s, but later settled in the Martha Lake area of Lynnwood.

In his 2009 book “The Nixons: A Family Portrait,” co-authored by Karen Olson, Ed Nixon wrote that during the White House years he and his wife attended White House state dinners. “Gay and I stayed in the rose-colored Queen’s Bedroom across the hall from the famous Lincoln Bedroom,” he wrote.

With a love of music that went back to her school days in Louisiana, Gay Nixon continued to perform into retirement. She played the accordion in a Seattle-based Finnish folk music group called Northwest Pelimannit. The ensemble has appeared at Taste of Edmonds and other events.

Along with her husband, Gay Nixon is survived by daughters Amelie “Amy” Peiffer, of Kent, and Elizabeth “Beth” Matheny, of Everett. No immediate services are planned.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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