Linda Lou Heller – cherished wife, mother, friend, and pioneer of female leadership in accounting – died of Alzheimer’s disease in Tucson, Arizona on April 20, 2019, at the age of 73.
Linda is lovingly remembered by her husband, Robert Heller; her son, Steve Heller; her daughter, Christine Heller; and numerous cousins, in-laws, and friends all along the way. She was preceded in death by her parents, Jasper (“Jack”) and Nella Cotant.
Linda was born on January 24, 1946, in Pocatello, Idaho. She and her parents moved to Ketchikan, Alaska when Linda was 2 years old, where she spent the rest of her childhood, graduating from Ketchikan High School in 1964. Despite her fear of water, she grew up helping her dad on his fishing boat, eager to go on overnight trips with him. He was her hero, and she took pride in his role as an open-hearted community leader in Ketchikan. Her upbringing in Alaska etched onto her spirit and remained an important part of her identity throughout her life.
She moved to Pullman, Washington to attend Washington State University, where she studied accounting. After graduating in 1968, she moved to Seattle and began work at Price Waterhouse, where she became a certified public accountant. Her career flourished: in 1979 she broke a glass ceiling by becoming the firm’s first female audit partner nationally and was fortunate to remain in the Seattle office. Her professional leadership paved the way for many women who followed in her footsteps, and she found meaning in mentoring younger women in her life at work and beyond.
She married Robert on February 23, 1980, in Seattle. They rejoiced in their friendship and love for one another. Their marriage of 39 years was one of deep mutual respect at its core, and they supported one another to live out their high aspirations. They brought two children into the world together, Steve in 1983 and Christine in 1987, and Linda was endlessly proud of her children’s accomplishments throughout her life. She passed on to her children her creativity, stubborn will, and lively wit, and inspired them to take pleasure in all their senses.
Her firecracker personality lit the room wherever she went. She brought passion and leadership to all her endeavors, from her career and volunteer work on private school boards, United Way, and Camp Fire USA, to her relentless advocacy for the people she cared about.
In retirement, she expanded her volunteer activities and dove into her enjoyment of the arts, taking up watercolor painting. Her later life brought health challenges, which she faced fiercely, surviving breast cancer. Alzheimer’s was a very difficult journey for the whole family, but her strong-willed and loving spirit endured to the very end.
Linda loved life. She adored her husband, her children, her dogs, and the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest and Southwest. She loved drinking “tea” (scotch whiskey) with her friends. She loved shopping, painting, and cooking. She will be remembered for her ferocious laugh and darting, knowing, deep blue eyes; her embracing hugs; and her keen sense of fashion.
A celebration of Linda’s life will be scheduled for Summer 2019, details to follow. All are welcome to attend.