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In This Issue

       

Linda Hamilton’s passion for music and education endures with scholarship endowment

Though paralyzed in a car accident, she inspired many with her upbeat determination

Amy Ewings, left, and Lori Zienkewicz wore their mother’s favorite color at the “Pink Tea” party she requested instead of a funeral. Linda Hamilton died in July.
Amy Ewings, left, and Lori Zienkewicz wore their mother’s favorite color at the “Pink Tea” party she requested instead of a funeral. Linda Hamilton died in July.

It speaks volumes about Linda Hamilton ‘70 that she chose to mark the end of her life with a “Pink Tea” celebration attended by family and friends rather than a traditional funeral service.

Even in death, she embraced the kind of upbeat and positive spirit that helped her weather a devastating car accident in 1997 and, later, a cancer diagnosis. The accident left her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life, unable to play the piano, which was both a passion and her livelihood.

“She lived with grace in her wheelchair for 16 years,” said her oldest daughter, Amy Ewings, of Wichita. “As we reflect on her life, we realize the paralysis propelled her to advocate for so many. She made lemonade from lemons, and she did it with the biggest smile she could find.”

Hamilton’s legacy will include not only that advocacy, but also her deep commitment to music and education. Through Hamilton’s estate, her children established the Linda Hamilton Endowed Scholarship in Music Education at Wichita State University. The award will be made for the first time in the fall of 2015.

A passionate supporter of the arts and education, Linda Hamilton established an endowed scholarship at her death to support music education majors at Wichita State.
Linda Hamilton

“Our mom loved teaching and playing piano,” said Hamilton’s youngest daughter, Lori Zienkewicz, of Chandler, Ariz. “Her car accident ceased her ability to live her dream. But, through this scholarship, she hoped to encourage future music educators to follow their passions and to make a difference for young people.”

Hamilton graduated from Wichita State in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in music education. She taught private piano lessons for many years and had a passion for the arts. She was active with Music Associates, which promotes the WSU School of Music, and was the group’s treasurer at her death.

“She felt music education was important to the future of our country and to the full intellectual development of young people,” Ewings said of the scholarship created for her mother. “She felt a connection to future music educators and wanted them to know their importance in the full education of a child.”

After her accident, Hamilton advocated for people with disabilities by working to make the city of Wichita more accessible to those in wheelchairs, her daughters said. As her health was failing, she requested that a “Pink Tea” be held at the Wichita Center for the Arts and that her loved ones and friends wear her favorite color, pink. She died on July 28, leaving two daughters and six granddaughters.

“She was a very determined and strong woman,” Zienkewicz said. “We have learned since our mom's death just how much she impacted and inspired people. We hope the scholarship continues to make a difference for the future music educators who graduate from WSU.”

 

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