Memorial scholarship established for 2015 EWHS grad Evan Zhao

Evan Zhao (Photo courtesy Claire Young)

A memorial scholarship has been established in memory of 2015 Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate Evan Zhao, who died May 27 in a rock climbing accident.

According to his sister Claire Young,  Evan — a full International Baccalaureate student at Edmonds-Woodway — graduated winter quarter 2020 from the University of Washington with a degree in informatics. He also recently joined a UW student project to design an app that would geographically map COVID-19 symptoms.

“We decided the best way to honor Evan’s memory is to create a memorial scholarship fund on his behalf,” said Claire, herself an EWHS graduate from the Class of 2001. The fund has been established through the Foundation for Edmonds School District, and EWHS teachers will work with the Zhao family to select a recipient each year.

Retired Edmonds High School biology teacher John Cooke discusses how to improve salmon habitat at the Edmonds Marsh with Evan Zhao in 2014. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

Evan was also a founding member of the EWHS Students Saving Salmon club and was featured in an Oct. 1 My Edmonds News article for his research on the Edmonds Marsh. Valerie Stewart, who was the club’s advisor at the time, remembered Evan as “an inspirational leader,” noting that he took the initiative to interview John Cooke, a former Edmonds High School biology teacher whose students stopped the marsh from being developed in the 1970s.

“With the recurring threat of development, Evan took it upon himself to research the importance of the Edmonds Marsh habitat and how it related to the Shoreline Master Program in 2014,” Stewart recalled. “He delivered a powerful comment to Edmonds City Council in September of 2014.  He was a rising star. My heart goes out to his family.”

Claire Young said that her family always worried about Evan’s participation in rock and mountain climbing, but shared what Evan’s friend Mick Smoot had to say about his passion for the sports:

“Last year he summited Mount Adams two times, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and various summits in the Cascades,” Mick said. “He also rock climbed in many places, doing multi-pitches in Index, Joshua Tree, Smith Rock to name a few. He loved all aspects of climbing and worked extremely hard.

Evan Zhao, left, with friend Mick Smoot on Mount Adams, with Mount Rainier in the background. (Photo courtesy Claire Young)

“Evan and I would frequently load up heavy backpacks and go walk up and down flights of stairs for training,” Mick added. “I don’t think I ever heard him complain about being too cold or too tired.”

Evan is survived by his mother Xuan Qin, father Hanyuan Zhao, sister Claire Young and her husband Greg Young, nephew William Young, and niece Leila Young. He was laid to rest at Edmonds’ Restlawn Memorial Park, “basically across the street from our parents’ house where he grew up and next to Hickman Park,” Claire said.

To donate to Evan Zhao’s Memorial Scholarship fund, visit or write a check to Foundation for Edmonds School District and mail it to P.O. Box 390, Lynnwood, WA 98046. Be sure to designate the “Evan Zhao Memorial Scholarship” on the check or in the comments section of your online donation.

  1. Wow this is such a tragedy and deep sympathy and prayers to all his family, teachers, mentors, and friends that knew him. I met Evan a few times and was so happy for the creation of the Students Saving Salmon and Edmonds Stream Team and as Val stated, he was an inspirational leader. RIP Evan, your wise soul was taking too soon from us.

  2. I didn’t know you but was visiting my beautiful mama today and noticed you are her new neighbor. You look like such a beautiful human being. That’s who my mother was. 4’9” full Japanese, kindest person I will ever know. She loved her grandchildren so much and now she has a new one to look after. God bless you and your family❤️

  3. Rip Evan! I don’t think I ever met you but I have known your parents for several years. I have heard a lot about you. They are so proud of you! Please be rest assured that we will continue to do good things that you have been doing!

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