Ian Edlund
Ian Edlund

Obituary of Ian Keith Edlund

Ian was born August 26, 1942, in Toledo, Washington, to Gordon and Bessie Edlund.  Growing up in Hoquiam, he played cello and bassoon, as well as bass in a dance band, “The Dew Drops.”


Ian graduated from Hoquiam High School in 1960.  He earned a BA (1965) and MA (1968) in music from Washington State University.  While at WSU, he played with the Spokane Symphony.  During his junior year of university, he taught choir in Colton, Washington.  Asked to form a band, he needed students from the Catholic high school. He was the first in the state to start a program with private/public school cooperation.


Ian moved to Lacey, Washington, in 1965 to be the sole orchestra teacher in North Thurston School District with just five high school students. He married Marjorie Owes of Spokane in 1966.  He retired from NTSD in 1995.


In 1970, he took over the Symphonic Strings, which he turned into a full orchestra. Renamed the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, it was conducted and led by Ian for 27 years.


In 1976, Ian formed his company, String Instrument Specialists, starting with repairs and expanding to importing and sales. He worked with teachers and students throughout the U.S.  From 1990 to 2012, he led the annual Birch Bay String Teachers’ Workshop, the largest of its type in the country.  As a composer, Ian has published over 70 orchestral pieces. 


Ian’s many awards included the ASTA (American String Teachers Association) national award for Outstanding String Teacher of 1995. In February 2020, the state chapter ASTA honored Ian with their award for Outstanding Contributions to String Education. He was chosen Person of the Year by Masterworks in 1997.


Ian enjoyed golfing, hiking and backpacking with friends and family. He loved working on cars and designed and built two houses.  Ian and Marj traveled extensively throughout their life together. Their most cherished trips and celebrations have been with family. Ian took camping trips with his grandchildren and continued playing cello in groups until his illness.


In the fall of 2019, Ian was diagnosed with chronic myeloid monocytic leukemia. He spent six months in Seattle for treatment, until he died of pneumonia on February 29, 2020. He is survived by his wife, Marj; daughter, Karin, and her husband, Karim Taifour; daughter, Kristin, and her husband, Ken Rosenow; and three grandsons, Gordon Taifour, Zak Taifour, and Hugh Rosenow. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Eric Edlund.  


The memorial service scheduled for Saturday, March 28, 2020 at the Koval Center has been POSTPONED.


Memorial donations may be made to the North Thurston Education Foundation (PO Box 3312, Lacey, WA 98509, 360-790-6548, ntef.org) or The United Churches of Olympia (110 11th Ave. SE, Olympia, WA 98501, 360-943-1210, theunitedchurches.org). 


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