LSW Founding Principal, Vaughn Lein

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LSW Pays Tribute to Founding Principal, Vaughn Lein

Written October 28, 2021 by LSW Admin

With heavy hearts, we said farewell to Vaughn Lein, age 74, on September 24, 2021.

He was a true gentleman, as genuine as they come; an earnest, kind, and thoughtful person, wholly committed to doing the right thing; a servant of his community and his family.

Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with his wife of 48 years, Barbara, sons Jon and Justin, grandsons Jacob, Aaron, and Elias, and siblings Ardith and Darrel.

A true local, he attended Camas High School and went on to study architecture at Washington State University. After graduating, he would venture to Medford, Oregon for a brief stint with the Oregon State Highway Department. He would ultimately be called back home, where his professional and personal aspirations would find purpose through architecture.

As a founding principal at LSW Architects, Vaughn dedicated his immense creative gifts to designing schools and public spaces that would add value to Vancouver, and to building positive, meaningful relationships that would outlast any project. Across generations, all who worked with Vaughn knew him to be a mentor who led with kindness and humility, and a constant learner.

He played many roles within the community, generously devoting his time to school and civic projects, boards, organizations, and committees, always with a mindset to learn, grow, and connect with people. Some of these commitments included his governor’s appointment to the initial Columbia River Gorge Commission, the Southwest Washington Community Foundation, the Vancouver Public Schools Foundation, the Clark County Planning Commission the Vancouver Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and the American Institute of Architects - Washington Council.

Vaughn loved his family and each place they called home. He always designing, carrying out improvements, and helping Barbara with her flower gardens.

For those of us who knew were lucky enough to know Vaughn, we will continue to be inspired by his life.  Vaughn had the unique ability to engage others in a caring and respectful way that would lead us to understand how our own gifts, talents and abilities can contribute in a visionary way to our community.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the  Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, reference “LSW Educational Scholarship Fund – Vaughn Lein” in the memo line. Checks can be delivered or mailed to 610 Esther Street, Suite 201, Vancouver, WA, 98660.

Vaughn's memorial service is being planned for 12 noon, November 18th at Propstra Square in the Esther Short Park.

Staff and Community Tributes to Vaughn  


I will always carry an image of Vaughn in my mind of an influential man who was quiet, thoughtful, and sincere. He treated everyone with kindness and respect from the superintendent of a school district to the greenest architect fresh out of school. He was a mentor to all of us, teaching us how to steer our projects and how to treat people right. I’ll miss his quick smiles and constant positivity. - Brent Young

I got to speak to Vaughn on several occasions and always appreciated his passion for leading and mentoring all of us in the office. Every piece of input or advice I received from him was always so intentional and truly challenged me grow in new ways I hadn’t even considered. Vaughn will be sorely missed, but his legacy will live on within LSW and the way we serve others. - Kyle Rogers

Ralph, Casey, et al, we are mourning the loss of Vaughan with heavy hearts having just learned of his passing. His vision and strength of character defined the essence of why LSW proved to be the perfect partner for the Vancouver School District. The team at LSW is second to none as a result. We will long treasure his memory. The crew of John, Ralph, Casey, Vaughn and fellow cast members were epic. Our deepest sympathy and respect. - Jim and Tim Parsley

Every interaction with Vaughn was a moment where you felt cared for and felt loved. When I first met Vaughn, I thought to myself how much he reminded me of the other leadership at LSW. What a generous gift it is to mentor a next generation of leaders, and for them to see the value in emanating your very best qualities. - Christian Korta

Vaughn was a great leader and I know many people looked up to him. His kindness, passion for mentoring, and many contributions to LSW and our community have been on my mind. I met Vaughn after he retired. He was the friendly face who stopped by the office and made a point to check-in and say hello. He often asked what I was working and offered some perspective on the project and how it fit within the community. As a mentor he encouraged me through tough times, providing a voice of experience and wisdom. I was frequently amazed to hear about all the committees and service-oriented organizations towards which Vaughn gave his time and energy. He modelled what it means to be an active and engaged citizen, living by his values, and generously sharing with his community. - Farleigh Winters 

In the last 10 years that I have known Vaughn, he has been a role model, a mentor, and a supporter for so many of us.  I was so blessed to connect with him on a regular basis even after his retirement. He was generous with his wisdom and experiences, and he shared them often to help us grow.  I remember him saying, “Young lady, I may be your mentor, but I am learning from you as well.” His commitment to continual growth, no matter the age, was inspiring.  He truly believed in us and made a lasting impact in our lives.  We are better because of Vaughn. - Esther Liu

Vaughn gave us the gift of his time, there isn’t a person he wouldn’t take the time for if they asked. He was dedicated to his community in countless ways, and he will be dearly missed and is loved by so many people who were fortunate enough to spend time with him. - Alison Lackey

The best memories I have about Vaughn involve laughter. When I first started working at LSW, I reported directly to him and at our first one-on-one meeting, I told him outright that he was kind of scary and intimidating. He laughed from his belly at that, and I knew we’d get along really well from that point on.  While in that same role, I took a lot of phone calls for him and I shared every mispronunciation of his name – Vegan Lange was one of my favorites, followed closely by Van Line – something we both rolled our eyes at.  As the years passed Vaughn gently teased me about my fear of public speaking, encouraging me to speak up in meetings.  After the first time I did, he gave me just a simple nod to know that I had done well by taking a step to overcoming that fear. He continued to encourage me to stretch and expand on my role while I learned and grew.  Something I’m extremely thankful for. - Shanan Pickett  

If there were only three words that I could use to describe Vaughn, they would be Kind, Generous, and Humble. Vaughn was always a bright point in my day. His kind smile put me at ease as he showed genuine interest in not only my career, but my family - always asking about my girls and encouraging me to soak up every second with them. He was an incredible mentor and led an extremely impressive career, creating a legacy firm with his values strongly instilled in its culture. Gone too soon, Vaughn will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege to know him. - Kristina Walsh-Daarud