Remembering Evelyn Wallraff
I remember two things about Evelyn that I'll never forget.
One: (most important) she always tried to include me in what was going on with the family while you guys were around, even though at times the crowd was against her, she always made sure that I was welcomed in the activities and her home. I'll never forget that.
The other two things (okay, I lied . . . remembered one
more) that I remember are quick ones. She never trusted me in scrabble
(kudos are due here) and often inspected things over and over again to
make sure that I wasn't screwing her somehow. She was not to be denied.
Always the competitor.
Finally, as much as I enjoyed her, I was careful not to get her too far off the point as we would then go into another cerebral plane that I didn't know existed and that I definitely could not play in. Her attention to detail in these 'mental wild goose chases' was legendary and would wear out the weary (most of the time . . . me).
Being my daughter's mother-in-law and sharing in a good many family get-togethers I got to know Evelyn quite well. We had lunches together, saw movies together, and discussed our childrens' passions. We were there for each other when illness occured and I found her to be compassionate and understanding. I must say, I miss our little tete-a-tete and I miss her smile.
I first met Evelyn on the tennis court at Himmel Park, a short distance from our home on 2931 E. Adams and also from her home. She was a fun person on the court and I remember once when someone complimented her on the red color of her hair, she laughingly replied that "it came out of a bottle."
She didn't flaunt her amazing compilation of achievements and, unfortunately, I never did get to hear her play the piano. Instead, when after your father's death, she started attending the Unitarian Universalist Church of which I've been a member for years, she was very supportive of my efforts with the music in that church. She often complimented me on the songs Family Singers performed at the Sunday morning worship services. Just the Sunday morning before the Monday when she died, I had talked with Evelyn outside the church. She had just finished looking at some of my art works on display in the church and complimented me on them. I mentioned that I didn't have as much time for "art" as I would like to because of household duties. To this she replied that I should hire someone to do those chores so I would have time to do art. I asked her for the name of her house cleaner and she gave it to me. Because of her encouragement, I now hire this same lady to clean for me once a month.
Evelyn and I used to go occasionally to the Armory Senior Center in downtown Tucson to play ping pong and we competed in the Senior Olympics together. I miss Evelyn and wish I could have spent more time with her.
My husband Neil, of course, has long, long memories of both Fred and Evelyn. While mine are more recent they do go back more than twenty years. We first met shortly after Neil and I married and we had a "do" at which your father and mother were present. Evelyn and I had a long chat and discovered that we both liked tennis and bridge as our main hobbies and it was she who launched me with a tennis group. She and I became frequent partners and good friends.
There are so many memories and she was so talented and interested in so many things. There was never a dull moment. We used to tease each other about our chintziness. I believe she beat me on that score a bit, but we were of that same depression-era mentality. She was a marvelous bridge player but I think she would most like to be remembered in her file as the Tucson tennis player with the most fabulous lob.
We met Evelyn the last day of December in 1993. Mark & I were taking a sabbatical semester from teaching jobs in Massachusetts and were coming to live in Tucson for five months, to research Native American ceremonies. Dean had suggested we contact his mother. And she kindly offered to put us up for a few days, while we found furniture and settled into our apartment.
We arrived late at night, having misunderstood western driving distances and traveled to Tucson from Salt Lake City in one grueling day. Evelyn seemed unfazed when four strangers tumbled out of a car onto her doorstep; she was gracious and welcoming.
Over the next few days, Evelyn was enormously helpful as we began to find our way around Tucson. She even loaned us a couple of pieces of furniture. The kids were fascinated by being able to pick -- in January, no less -- ripe lemons and grapefruit off trees in her yard. One odd thing happened during the days we stayed with Evelyn. I had done a wash in her washing machine and had hung the laundry to dry on the line behind her house. When I went to take in the clothes (dry in a matter of hours in the desert air), my favorite shirt was missing. But another had been hung in its place! Evelyn and I laughed a lot as we imagined together the person that must have wandered through and exchanged his sweaty shirt for mine.
One more image surfaces from my memory of Evelyn. I see the four of us listening to her playing the piano. I think the piece was one by Chopin. She played so very beautifully, and was so modest and even shy about her skill.
We're so glad we had a chance to meet Evelyn and get to know her a little. She was a unique and warm spirited woman.
Mary Lee and Mark Karlins
Evelyn was a good friend to many of us who came to the U of A. Many of us met at the Faculty Women's Club (we came in 1951). She was a good bridge player and joined the '51 group. She also would say how the game could have been won if you would have done the "right thing!!," and she was right!! Then she would say "oh well, it's only a game!!" She was a great hostess and we all enjoyed coming to her house.
She also reminded us to think about writing a family journal which I'm now doing!
Evelyn was a good friend, and I miss her.
I was very fortunate to have Evelyn as a colleague in the research section of the Veteran's Hospital, when I first joined it in 1962. Besides personal friendship, she was often a valuable resource in immunobiology, her field of expertise, but then new to me.
Evelyn was certainly very devoted to her research, even passionately one may say. She was equally passionate about the progress and growth of her children, sometimes a bit to the ennui of other proud parents in the department.
There is no doubt that she was devastated when forced out of the research section by internal politics. Having to join the faculty of the Community College was repeating the injustice of the nepotism rule which excluded her from the University, many years earlier.
It was a great pleasure to renew my friendship with Evelyn just very recently, shortly before her so unexpected demise. She was still a striking lady, seemed fit - playing tennis and bridge, her life-long pleasures. I lost a personal friend and can only offer my deepest sympathies to her family.
Evelyn Wallraff and I could be said to be strong friends who didn't need to be in close proximity in order to preserve our friendship for 60 years. Last night my husband and I wandered back into the public garden in San Francisco where she and I were last photographed together one more time for Evelyn to smile her infectious smile and look at the world with that positive glow that first drew me to her in the garden at Rosary College. We were both freshmen, but Evelyn had the ownership face of a queen.
Needless to say I never knew she had heart trouble she had a heart that was untroubled in all important ways. She was a model for bright and committed women. For me she keeps on shining, lighting the way.
Mary Doyle Springer