Roy Lindgren
Roy Lindgren

Obituary of Roy Paul Lindgren

After a long, inspiring and enormously productive life, our beloved father, friend and mentor passed away at his home on February 6, 2015, with his daughters at his side. We are all honored to have had him in our lives. These words spoken by Roy’s respected friend, Janet Showalter, upon learning of his passing, capture what so many believed about Roy, “He was a gallant man, so finely principled and dedicated to helping the world…the whole world. We thought he would go on forever.” Roy Paul Lindgren was born at home in a rural Webster County farmhouse in Lanyon, Iowa, on May 15, 1920. His father, Frank August Lindgren, was a Swedish immigrant and his mother, Clara Naomi “Amy” Johnson, was a first generation American, born to Swedish immigrants. Roy’s given name was LeRoy, which he changed as a young adult. However, his father affectionately called him “Peter” as a young child. Roy was the youngest of eight children. The Lindgren family was hard working, full of integrity, and very closely knit. They stayed in touch over the decades with regular family reunions and a “relay letter” that circled the country and sometimes the globe, called the Round Robin. At reunions and in the Round Robin, there was much time devoted to the keeping of memories and the deep gratitude that all of the siblings had for their parents, who they held in the highest esteem. Roy graduated from his high school as valedictorian with only nine students. He often reflected on the fact that four of his fellow high school friends died in WW II. Roy went on to college in Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois Medical School. He was one of many medical students recruited during wartime to join the United States Public Health Service, a branch of the military, which paid his tuition. After graduating in 1945, he went to the New Orleans Marine Hospital to complete his internship. He served in the Public Health Service for 31 years. While in New Orleans, he met his first wife, Dixie Batty, and they were married in 1946. Soon thereafter, they moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where Roy attended Harvard and earned his Master’s in Public Health while Dixie went to Simmons to get her Master’s in Social Work. During their years in Boston, they often spent time off at a cabin on an island on rural Rocky Pond with another couple, fishing, canoeing, and swimming. From there, Roy began working on a tuberculosis X-ray survey team at sites around the country. Their two daughters, Rebecca and Susanne, were born during this period. In 1956, on loan from the U.S. Public Health Service to the U.S. Agency for International Development, Roy took his young family to Saigon, South Vietnam. For two years, he led a team of American and Vietnamese doctors, working on controlling tropical diseases. Upon returning to the U.S., the family lived in Maryland where Roy worked in different positions, including at the National Institute of Health. In 1960, Roy and Dixie were divorced. Roy married his second wife and life companion, Thelma Marie Mueller, in Maryland in 1962. Their son, John, was born and Roy legally adopted Thelma’s son, Charles, from her first marriage. During this time, Roy became Health Officer for Montgomery County, Maryland, where he worked until retirement in 1983. Following the death of his wife of 40 years in 2002, Roy moved to Olympia, Washington, to be near his daughters and grandchildren, where he lived until his death at age 94. He was a wonderful father to each of his four children, supportive, accepting, patient, and encouraging. He touched the lives of many and will be immensely missed. As those who knew Roy are aware, his passion was politics. He was always a civic activist, writing letters to Congress, discussing and thinking endlessly about each election cycle and how to improve the way our government works. Writing books on these subjects was his driving force. He was a compassionate man, always a voice for the poor and disenfranchised. He is survived by his children, Becky Lindgren of Olympia, WA, Susanne Peters of Olympia, WA, Charlie Lindgren of Lacey, WA, John Lindgren of Sacramento, CA; and his first wife, Dixie Nghiem of Olympia, WA. Roy has four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Preceding him in death were his wife, Thelma; his parents, Frank and Amy (who lived to 103); and all of his seven siblings, Regina, Gilmore, Evelyn, Obed, Ruth, Emory, and Irene. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Roy’s honor to the Olympia Food Bank ( Please leave memories of Roy or condolences for his family in the Guestbook below.
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Service Information:

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 2:00 p.m., at South Sound Manor, 455 North St. SE, Tumwater, WA 98501. Please dress for spring since this was the season of Roy’s birth and represents new life.
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