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Friday, June 23, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Wallace Sigmar built teams, teaching at community colleges

Seattle Times staff reporter

Wallace "Wally" Sigmar, a soccer coach and college administrator, redefined education and raised expectations at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon and Peninsula College in Port Angeles.

As acting Peninsula president in 1994 and as president beginning in 1995, Dr. Sigmar made news by soothing and synchronizing troubled factions created by an earlier administration.

He then beefed up the Peninsula faculty with more tenured positions, increased student enrollment, created partnerships with community groups and energized fund-raising efforts.

Dr. Sigmar oversaw extensive campus expansion and brought intercollegiate athletics back to the college, starting with men's and women's basketball teams in 1997.

He had coached five state-champion soccer teams while at Skagit Valley, and in 1993 was inducted into the Northwest region College Hall of Fame.

Dr. Sigmar died Tuesday (June 20) of lymphoma. He was 53.

"Dr. Sigmar led (Peninsula College) to unprecedented growth in terms of students and faculty," wrote Gov. Gary Locke in a statement. "He reached out to the community, businesses and tribal members so they could become part of the college family."

According to Peninsula senior vice president Joan Ethier, "Wally tried to make Peninsula the leading education provider for the north Olympic Peninsula. He brought in leading-edge technology, and he developed partnerships with four-year institutions. He was a mentor for faculty and staff throughout the community-college system."

He was born in Seattle to a Lutheran minister and his wife. His family lived in Canada and Iceland before settling in Vancouver, Wash. He graduated from Fort Vancouver High School.

He earned a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's in education administration at Western Washington University. He earned a doctorate in higher-education administration and community-college leadership at the University of Texas.

Before coming to Peninsula College as dean of educational services in 1993, Dr. Sigmar was Skagit Valley College dean of administrative and student services.

At Skagit, he also was assistant to the president, director of student development, education-department chairman and athletic commissioner for the Northwest Athletic Association.

"He was just a wonderful young man, with so much talent; it's a terrible shame to lose him," said his uncle Eric Sigmar of Auburn.

Also surviving are Dr. Sigmar's wife, Jean Sigmar, and sons Erik and John Sigmar, all of Port Angeles; parents, Harald and Ethel Sigmar, Mount Vernon; and sisters Kristin Smith, Watsonville, Calif.; Karen Mason, Bellevue; Thora Michels, Grandview, Yakima County; and Emily Sigmar, Seattle.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 Lopez Ave., Port Angeles.

Public memorial gatherings will be held at 3 p.m. today at Skagit Valley College, and at 2 p.m. Monday at Peninsula College.

Donations may go to Peninsula College Memorial Foundation at the college, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles WA 98362.

Carole Beers' e-mail address is cbeers@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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