Evalyn C. Evenson (1916 - 2008)

Obituary
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Funeral services for Evalyn C. Evenson, 91, will be held at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 29, in the chapel of Stevenson-Mischel-Olson Funeral Home, Dickinson, N.D. Burial will follow in the Dickinson cemetery.

Visitation will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday, Jan. 28, at the chapel of Stevenson-Mischel-Olson Funeral Home, Dickinson, N.D.

Evalyn passed away Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008, at St. Luke's Home in Dickinson.

Evalyn Clarissa Evenson was born in Dickinson, N.D., on Oct. 11, 1916. Her father, Otto T. Evenson, was a first-generation Norwegian-American who grew up in Minnesota. Her mother, Zula Black Evenson, was of English/Irish parentage and was reared in Marshfield, Mo. Evalyn was the second of two girls born to Zula and Otto; there were no other children.

Evalyn grew up in Dunn Center. After graduating from Dunn Center High School in 1934, she moved to Chicago, where she pursued secretarial and bookkeeping skills. There she met and fell in love with Herbert Holm, an Army officer. They were married in 1943 at Louisiana's Fort Polk, where he was stationed briefly before reporting for active duty in World War II. This union ended after seven years of marriage.

In the late 1940s, Evalyn lived briefly with her parents, who had moved from North Dakota to Portland, Ore. There she met Carl Pletcher, who remained her friend and companion for the rest of his life.

Evalyn moved on to San Diego, where she'd always aspired to live ("a perfect climate"). She worked there for 20 years as bookkeeper for a seafood import company. She joined Carl Pletcher almost every weekend in San Francisco, where they frequented jazz clubs. They constantly traveled together, but they never lived together.

In the 1960s Evalyn moved, at Carl's urging, to Portland, his hometown. They had separate apartments but saw each other constantly until Carl's death in 1981.

Evalyn enrolled in practical nurse training after the move to Portland and she worked as a nurse for several years. Without Carl, however, she led an increasingly isolated life. She remained in regular communication with her sister, Esther, always her best friend, and was devastated when Esther was killed in Bozeman in a pedestrian accident in 1987.

Evalyn's health deteriorated after her sister's death. She'd survived breast cancer in 1984, but the depression that accompanied her bout with cancer deepened, and she became a virtual recluse. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, she began to experience hearing difficulties, and cataracts impaired her eyesight.

At age 87 and weakened by two sudden and lengthy hospital stays in the early months of 2004, Evalyn acknowledged that she could no longer live independently and stated that her wish was to return to Dickinson, N.D., to live in an assisted environment there. She relocated there in June 2004.

Evalyn spent three and a half years at The Evergreen. Her sight improved with cataract surgery, but episodic tinnitus and chronic fatigue limited her social interactions. Despite these limitations, she made new friends and sustained old friendships with numerous people in multiple states. She beguiled many with her wicked sense of humor. She never showed any signs of dementia, and her sharp and inquisitive mind delighted all who knew her.

One of Evalyn's most endearing qualities was her love of vulnerable beings -- children and animals. Childless, she doted on nieces and nephews and friends' children and grandchildren. She contributed to organizations supporting endangered and abandoned children. In Portland, she adopted and nurtured abandoned cats. Later, in Dickinson, she became a staunch squirrel supporter. Every day bemused Evergreen residents and staff would watch as Evalyn placed unshelled peanuts on the backyard fence. And, sure enough, the squirrels showed up to enjoy Evalyn's largesse.

In lieu of flowers, memorials for Evalyn Evenson should be mailed to The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L St. N.W., Washington, DC 20037.

Remembrances and condolences may be shared with the family at www.stevensonfuneralhome.com.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 25, 2008
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