BELLINGHAM — The family and friends of Lynn Heimsoth, the Sunnyland Elementary School principal who was fatally shot in her home along with her pets last December, have partnered with the Whatcom Community Foundation to establish a memorial scholarship in her honor.
Heimsoth is a former principal of Shoultes Elementary in Marysville.
The Lynn Heimsoth Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a Bellingham School District student who is the first in their family to be accepted to attend a four-year college, according to Rachel Myers, philanthropic and program services director with the Whatcom Community Foundation.
Heimsoth’s brother, Jeff Fairman, said he initially had and solidified the idea for the scholarship with other family members and his sister’s coworkers in late spring. Fairman said he did the founding donation for the scholarship a little more than a month ago.
The family wanted to set up something that exemplified the way Heimsoth lived her life and that honored the things she felt were important, Fairman said. He said this was their way to set up “kind of a legacy” for her. Fairman said his sister lived her life by making “sure there were opportunities available” for others, including for her students.
“It’s a real continuation of how she lived her life, sort of how she contributed to the community,” Fairman said.
Myers, with the Whatcom Community Foundation, said the partnership with Heimsoth’s family was a great fit because the scholarship is focused on helping first-generation college students and is in line with the foundation’s focus on equity, opportunity and inclusion. Myers said they were honored to be able to help a family remember a loved one in this way.
Myers said the inaugural scholarship is $1,000. She said the family is leaving the door open to increasing the monetary amount as the scholarship fund grows. Myers said the scholarship fund currently has about $2,500 available, which has been provided mostly by Heimsoth’s family.
Anyone can donate to the scholarship fund by going to the website created by Lynn Heimsoth’s family and clicking the donate button, the community foundation’s website, or they can send cash, check or stocks to the foundation. Because the foundation is a nonprofit, it is tax deductible, Myers said.
The foundation offers more than 100 local scholarships, and the application process for the scholarships for students will open in February, Myers said. Recipients for the scholarships, including the one honoring Lynn Heimsoth, will be announced sometime in May 2021, Myers said.
Fairman said his sister believed in every student having a chance, no matter what their background or situation was in life. Fairman said Heimsoth also dedicated a lot of time to her students with her therapy dog, Sukha, who was also fatally shot, but that there wasn’t a clear path to support something like that, so the family settled on the scholarship idea.
Fairman said he wants his sister to be remembered “as a kind and caring person who really saw the best in others, rather than being remembered by the tragic way she left us.”
Heimsoth, 58, was found fatally shot in her home west of Bellingham on Dec. 26. Her therapy dog, Sukha — who attended school with her — and a cat were also found fatally shot. Her death was ruled a homicide on Dec. 27. She had been the principal at Sunnyland Elementary since July 2017.
Heimsoth’s husband, Kevin Heimsoth, is charged with premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree animal cruelty for the death of his wife and their pets, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.
Kevin Heimsoth’s criminal case was put on hold in early February while he attempted to recover from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Kevin Heimsoth allegedly shot himself twice in the head after allegedly shooting and killing his wife and their pets.
Court proceedings in Kevin Heimsoth’s case were delayed until his competency to stand trial is considered. The court is expected to hear a motion for dismissal and civil commitment in the case, meaning he would go to a state psychiatric hospital for treatment, on Monday, Nov. 23.