Obituary: Zelda Mae Lay Scheyer

April 29, 1927 — January 20, 2019


With the courage and grace with which she lived her life, Zelda Mae Lay Scheyer, age 91, passed away peacefully of natural causes on Sunday, January 20, 2019. In life and death “Z” served as an example to all those who knew and loved her. Born April 29,1927 in Bozeman, Montana, she was the only child of Fred and Nettie Lay. She was known in her early Bozeman years as Zelda Mae and throughout her adult years as “Z”. Zelda moved to Helena, Montana in 1940 when her father, Fred, was appointed First Assistant to the Attorney General of the State of Montana. During her school years, Z was an accomplished pianist and organist. She performed on both the piano and organ around Helena at community functions, her school, and her church, St, Paul’s Methodist Church. In 1944, Z served as the President of the State of Montana’s Methodist Youth Leadership Organization. During her time as president, she travelled throughout the State of Montana and to the National Conference in Washington, to speak and to represent Methodist Youth.

Following her graduation from Helena High School, Z received a Music scholarship to the College of Puget Sound. She attended college for three years, where she studied music and speech. She left college in 1948 to manage her father’s political campaign for Judge of Montana’s Sixth Judicial District. The following years were dedicated to her marriage and raising a family.

For twenty-six years, Z raised her family in Port Townsend. In 1963, Z commuted from Port Townsend to the University of Puget Sound to finish her college degree, ultimately graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She taught second grade at the Primary Building in Port Townsend. Z then transitioned to an administrative role and became the founding Head Start Director in Port Townsend, as well as an early childhood educator. Passionate about reaching the underserved in the Port Townsend community, Z had a social conscience long before it was fashionable to do so. Quoted in a 1967 article in the Port Townsend Leader, Z said, ”If these youngsters are to receive equal treatment, they must receive more opportunity.”

Z’s Port Townsend years were filled with many friends and participation in numerous community and volunteer activities. Known as an innovator and organizer she served as President of the Port Townsend Art League: a Charter and working member of the Port Townsend Summer School of the Arts, President of P.E.O. Sisterhood, S.L.A., Science Literature and Art, Brownie Scout Leader, George Welch Orthopedic Guild, Port Townsend Citizen’s Police Advisory Committee, Secretary and Co- Founder of the Teen Recreation Center known as the  “Drop-In,” Founding Board Member of the Port Townsend Rhody Run, Chairman of the Citizenship Committee of the Daughters of the American Revolution,  member of the Jefferson County Hospital Auxiliary and Director of the Auxiliary’s Volunteer Program, and founding member Board of Directors of The Centrum Foundation.

In Port Townsend in the 1970’s, Z became an entrepreneur. She founded and operated two businesses: Country Gardens, a small shop on Water Street, selling small plants, herbs and gifts. Later she founded Z’s Chocolates, crafting and selling handmade artisan chocolates from her mother Nettie’s turn-of-the-century candy recipes. Z’s later years were filled with the care and love of her grandchildren, gardening and genealogy.

During the last four and a half years of her life, Z lived at Progress Adult Family Home, in Bellevue. The family wishes to thank caregivers Magdalena, Maria, Lucy and Megan, as well as Evergreen Hospice, Lana and Joe, for their exceptional care.

Z is survived by her daughter Laura Scheyer (Steve Cohn), Bill Scheyer Jr., grandchildren Rebecca (David Rosen), Sarah, Brianna (Cody Bowman) and great grandson Beckett.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests remembrances to The Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, 801 Broadway Suite 701, Seattle, WA 98122;

The family is forever indebted to Saul E. Rivkin M.D. It was Dr. Rivkin’s lifesaving medical care and treatment over an almost forty year span that allowed Z to live a long and full life.

A private memorial service was held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Medina, Washington. Friends are invited to view and sign the online guestbook at:


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