News

Teacher's death touches hundreds

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

More than 120 students from Decatur High School attended a memorial service this week for a popular teacher.

Christine Leroueil, 52, died June 3 after battling melanoma.

Several students remembered her in comments at Leroueil’s burial and on-line guest books. Many noted her passion for teaching and caring for students and referred to her as “Mrs. L.”

Her memorial service was held June 8 at Christ Lutheran Church. About 300 people paid their respects.

Christine Reed Clark was born July 31, 1952 in Richland and attended Kelso High School. Her sister, Stephanie Clark, said her oldest sister graduated as valedictorian of her class.

Christine was a role model for Stephanie and her other sister, Karen Clark. “We always looked up to her,” Stephanie said.

While a student at Whitman College, Christine decided to become a teacher. Her junior year she spent in France, and it was there she met her husband, Pierre Leroueil.

According to their son, Marc, his father was studying theology at the time, but followed his mother back to the States.

They had three children –– eldest son Pierre, daughter Pascale and Marc.

Christine was always interested in learning, and she and her husband did a lot together, from traveling to France to visit his family to planning their house and garden. They were accomplished cooks and were famous within their family and circle of friends for their French meals, Karen said. Often, friends asked Christine and Pierre to cook for their birthdays in lieu of a gift.

Christine worked for Federal Way Public Schools since 1992, when she started as a substitute teacher and as a theme reader. From 1996 to 2000, she taught French, language arts, Gen Y classes and computer support at Sacajawea and Lakota middle schools. In 2003, she moved to Decatur, teaching French and computer science.

Twice she took her students to France, Marc Leroueil said.

A senior at Decatur, Bryce Ancheta, remembered Christine Leroueil from his seventh and ninth-grade years when he took her computer science classes.

“She knew her stuff,” Ancheta said. Leroueil also cared a lot for her students, he added.

At Decatur, he often visited Leroueil at her classroom to talk about problems he was having or just visit. She treated him like a friend, Ancheta said.

A fan of science fiction, Leroueil would also attend parties Ancheta threw at the beginning and end of the season for the “Star Trek: Enterprise” television series. “We always looked forward to that,” he said.

She didn’t make it to the series finale. In March, Leroueil was diagnosed with melanoma. It was the second time in her life fighting the disease. More than 20 years earlier, she fought it and won. This time, the doctors gave her three months.

Despite a life including travel, learning and a loving family, Leroueil had also experienced pointed grief. Her oldest son, Pierre, died in a car accident a few years ago, prompting state Sen. Tracey Eide of Federal Way to push for a law limiting drivers’ licenses for teenagers.

Leroueil, who also battled Hodgkins disease, lived through all of the setbacks with strength, said her sister, Stephanie.

Current and former students remembered Leroueil for being a great teacher and caring person.

“Mrs. L was the best teacher a student could ever ask for. She was caring and understanding. To me, she was an inspiration, and I will never forget her,” a former student wrote in an on-line guest book.

“She tried to make learning fun and get it accomplished,” Karen Clark said.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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