Monday, February 26, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Colleagues Recall With, Warmth Of Dan Ayrault -- Lakeside Headmaster Believed In Giving Back To The Community

Arthur Dan Ayrault's office at Lakeside School looks as though he might come strolling in, two dogs bounding by his side, at any moment.

Stacks of papers fill the black in-box on his desk; several folders await attention on a table in the office.

A handwritten message on the top folder begins: ``Dear Dan, . . .'' And an explanation of what needs to be done with the file follows.

All these elements in Ayrault's office are commonplace: Nothing seems amiss.

But the view from his window tells another story. A U.S. flag furls and unfurls at half-mast, buffeted by the wind.

Ayrault, who had been headmaster at the private school in North Seattle since 1969, died at his home Saturday afternoon of cardiac arrest. He was 55.

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday at the school gymnasium. The public is invited. Remembrances may be made to Lakeside School in Ayrault's name.

Ayrault, who was born in Long Beach, Calif., received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Stanford University in 1956. While a junior at Stanford, Ayrault was captain of the rowing team. He was a two-time Olympic gold medalist: in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia, and in 1960 in Rome.

He also won several national rowing championships. In 1958, he founded and served as the first president of Lake Washington Rowing Club, with which he maintained a lifetime affiliation.

After graduating from Stanford, Ayrault served three years as a Navy officer, primarily aboard destroyers in the Pacific Ocean.

He joined the Lakeside faculty in 1959 as a teacher. In 1967, Ayrault received a master's degree in education from Harvard University. He was appointed headmaster at Lakeside two years later.

In 1980, Ayrault was named Outstanding Educator in the state by the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. He was also an active member of the board of directors of the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and served as president and chairman of the Pacific Science Center from 1980 to 1984.

He is survived by his wife, Susan; children Lisa Barker, Lance, Eric and Megan; and a sister, Elizabeth Moses.

In addition to his family, Ayrault leaves behind a legacy of academic excellence at Lakeside and legions of friends affiliated with the school.

Yesterday, school staff and board trustees gathered at the school to talk about their loss.

Losing Ayrault was like a death in the family at Lakeside, said Frank Magusin, the school's acting headmaster. ``This school is an extended community,'' he said. ``We're like a family. All of his kids went to this school. The (Ayrault) family wanted to have the memorial on campus.''

Lakeside, which serves about 670 students in grades five through 12, has a reputation for turning out students who go on to top colleges and universities. The school also runs a summer program for low-income students.

Magusin described Ayrault as a man who believed that community involvement was an integral part of education.

``Dan envisioned Lakeside as an independent school that was giving back to the community,'' he said.

Magusin and Richard Bangert II, president of the school's board of trustees, praised Ayrault's managerial skills.

``He always knew what was going on,'' Magusin said. ``As I'm running through these meetings trying to figure out what's going on, I hear his voice running through my head.''

Ayrault groomed Magusin as a possible successor by routinely doling out encouraging words, Magusin said.

Bangert, who has served on the school's board of trustees for 11 years, expressed confidence in the school's continued excellence.

``He has left a legacy that there's no way the school could fail,'' Bangert said.

Kathleen Mahler, a teacher at Lakeside, remembers Ayrault as a tall man of towering intellect. He was an administrator the teachers could count on for a well-thought-out reply to their questions, she said.

``We used to joke that Dan's answers were so thorough that if you asked him what time it was, he'd tell you how to put the watch together.''

But Ayrault's biggest asset was his concern for others.

``He really cared about the teachers and his staff,'' Mahler said.

And he loved his dogs. They were always by his side, or beneath his desk.

``One would poke its head out from one end under his desk, and the other would have its feet sticking out at the other end,'' said June Arnett, the school's administrative assistant.

At first glance, ``it looked like one big dog (lying) under his desk, a dog with a black head and brown feet.''

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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