Linda Shuler ’64, Theater, Volunteer, Humanitarian

Linda Lee Schuler was born on May 25, 1946, in Charleston, South Carolina. She and her parents,

Anthony Leo and Virginia Maxine Schuler, moved to the Westside of Columbus when she was an infant. Although she is a true Charlestonian, she claimed Columbus as her hometown. Linda cherished her time at West High School and was a member of the esteemed Weskets Drill Team and was a class speaker at her graduation. Linda was very proud to be able to address her classmates. The theme of her speech was “Age is just a Number” and you should never let it keep you from achieving your life’s purpose.

Linda began her college education in political science, but ended with receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech and Theatre from The Ohio State University. Upon completion of her degree, Linda started her career at the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. While there, she founded the Park Playhouse Children’s Drama Company. This was later followed by her appointment as the Senior Center Director, a position she held for 30 years until her retirement in 1999.

Linda settled in Victorian Village in the mid-1970’s 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 2016, when the Short North Business Association chose her as one of their unsung heroes.

Linda met her wife, Karla Rothan in 1996 and they were married in 2018. They continued to fulfill their family mission of volunteerism, together, for over twenty-six years.

Linda chaired the Stonewall Columbus Pride Parade for twenty-two years, from 1997 – 2019. She was chosen as The Grand Marshal in 2002. Under her leadership, the parade grew from just 200 marching activists into a community wide event with public officials, churches, employee resource groups, and activists marching together to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community. In 2019, at the age of 73, Linda and her dedicated team produced one of the largest Pride marches in the United States.

Linda was also the driving force behind the creation and management of the Stonewall Columbus Trailblazer Program, which provides social, educational, and other opportunities for age 50+LGBTQ adults. Her outreach, creativity, persistence, and leadership to this often-overlooked group changed the lives of so many.

The Human Rights Campaign chose Linda as an Equality Award winner in 2012 and in 2019 she won the Steven Shellabarger Illuminator Award, which recognizes individuals within the Columbus community who have demonstrated outstanding initiative by promoting LGBTQ rights and creating a more inclusive Columbus.

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.

In 2023, Mayor Andrew Ginther will induct Linda into the City of Columbus Hall of Fame, which honors outstanding individuals who, “through exemplary accomplishments, have gained national recognition for themselves and have brought credit to this City.”

Linda’s legacy is one of exemplary service and accomplishment, always striving to leave things better than she found them.

Linda passed away on October 1, 2022 at the age of 76. She is survived by her beloved spouse, Karla Rothan and her numerous, extended and chosen families and friends.

Dorance Nichols Hornsby, Class of 1963, nominated Linda.