Obituary: Linda Schuler, Ohio LGBTQ+ trailblazer and legendary Columbus Pride Parade chair

For over 20(!) years Linda Schuler served as Chair and stepped-off the Stonewall Columbus Pride March.

Linda Lee Schuler, age 76, passed away on October 1, 2022. Linda was born on May 25, 1946, in Charleston, South Carolina.

She and her parents moved to the west side of Columbus when she was an infant so, although she is a true Charlestonian, she claimed Columbus as her hometown. Linda attended West High School and was a member of the esteemed Westkets drill team.

She went on to study political science and received a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Theatre from The Ohio State University. After completing her college education, Linda went to work for the city at The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. She founded the Park Playhouse Children’s Drama Company and was a Senior Center Director until she retired in 1999. Linda settled in Victorian Village and became an Urban Pioneer. She was one of the first women in Columbus to receive a loan to purchase, renovate and restore property. Linda was honored for her work in restoration in 2013 when she was chosen as one of our unsung heroes by the Short North Business Association.

In 1997, Linda became a volunteer for Stonewall Columbus where she chaired the Columbus Pride Parade for 22 years. Linda also created the Trailblazer Program at Stonewall which provides social, educational and health-related opportunities and support for older LGBTQ adults. The Human Rights Campaign chose Linda as an Equality Award winner and she went on to win the Steven Shellabarger Illuminati Award in 2017. In 2021, Linda was inducted into the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame and in 2023 she will receive the Legacy Fund Honors Award from the Legacy Fund of the Columbus Foundation.

Linda Schuler famously kicked off the Columbus Pride Parade for decades. (Photo credit: Ray LaVoie)

In 2021 Stonewall created the ‘Linda Schuler Volunteer Trailblazer Award’  in honor of Linda Schuler in celebration of her many years of service, on the occasion of her 75th Birthday, May 25, 2021. For over 20 years Linda orchestrated and stepped-off the Stonewall Columbus Pride March and for many years was a key member and leader for the Stonewall Columbus Trailblazers program; Linda also served on the Stonewall Columbus board for several years (2002 – 2007).

Linda was recognized in 2021 with the ‘Linda Schuler Volunteer Trailblazer Award.” Subsequent recipients will be selected to honor those who reflect these same qualities as demonstrated by Linda Schuler an outstanding and dedicated volunteer to the Stonewall organization for many years.

“She was the biggest champion I never knew I needed” said Densil Porteous, executive director of Stonewall Columbus. “It was Linda who helped me affirm that I should be in this role at this moment. It was Linda who would whisper gently in my ear an affirming word that let me know I was doing alright.” Schuler was one of the the longest serving Pride March chairs and also a member of the Board of Trustees. “The light she brought into a room will truly be missed by so many.”

Linda is survived by her cherished and beloved spouse, Karla Rothan, and her numerous extended and chosen families and friends, all of whom she treasured and loved. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made by check to the Rothan-Schuler donor advised fund of The Columbus Foundation, 1234 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43205.

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