Lakewood Middle School mourns longtime teacher

LAKEWOOD – Every morning, long before the students arrived, David Mellander would pop into the principal’s office with a smile and a joke.

“You could count on David,” said Lakewood Middle School principal Crystal Knight. “He loved to go to work every day.”

Long after most teachers retire, Mellander, 68, was back in his classroom each fall.

The longtime teacher, who taught his first class in 1959, suffered a stroke in his sleep over the weekend and died Tuesday morning. Cards from students have come pouring into the principal’s office this week. They will be given to his family.

The school has had extra counselors on hand to help students and staff members handle the sudden loss of a fixture at the school.

An event to honor Mellander’s life will be scheduled after spring break, which begins next week. Students will help organize it, Knight said.

“He has been pursuing his love long past the time when he would be able to retire,” Lakewood School District Superintendent Larry Francois said.

Knight remembered Mellander, a Woodinville resident, as a supportive colleague from the time she was a substitute teacher. Every day, he would help with hall and bus duty, even though it wasn’t required, she said.

Over the years, he held a variety of jobs in the Lakewood district. He taught geography, art, music appreciation, science and state history.

He once served as principal when Lakewood had junior and senior high schools. He also coached basketball and tennis ,and led an after-school study program for several years.

Mellander worked at Western Washington University in the 1970s, as educational resources director and adjunct professor.

Born in Chicago Dec. 23, 1936, he started his career in education teaching English at a middle school in the Midwest in 1959.

He was active in the Lutheran church, played the piano and organ, and loved sailboats.

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