Mrs. Eugenia Weisman Evans died peacefully on Tuesday, December 25, at Covenant Village in Gastonia, NC, very much loved and cherished by her family, friends, teaching colleagues and students. The daughter of Ousev and Sophia Weisman, she was born in Odessa, Ukraine, on February 20, 1909. She was 103 years old.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Rudolph Claude Evans, and son, Thomas Hugh Evans.
Genie's talent as a pianist became obvious at age four and she studied with eminent professors in Odessa. She began teaching piano at age 15. The next year she and her mother moved to Prague where she was the youngest student admitted to the prestigious Prague Conservatory of Music. She earned bachelor and masters degrees and became a concert pianist and teacher.
She and her mother came to America in 1940 on the last refugee ship to leave Europe and settled in Chicago where she taught and accompanied at the Chicago School of Music and also performed as a concert pianist. In 1942 she married her beloved Rudy, whom she had met in Prague. An outstanding polymer chemist, Rudy held doctor's degrees in chemical engineering from Charles University in Prague and the University of Chicago. They raised two children, Mary and Tommy.
After they moved to Winchester, VA, Genie taught private piano lessons and joined the faculty of Shenandoah University. She became an associate professor and continued to teach at Shenandoah, where she was awarded the honor of Professor Emerita, until she moved to Gastonia in 2001. She joined the faculty of Gaston School of the Arts and taught until she was 102.
Genie is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Mary and David Layton, two granddaughters and their husbands: Maribeth and Wayne Jenkins, and Becca and Jason Shiflet; five great-grandchildren: Mary Nell and Anna Jenkins and Will, Evan and Sarah Layton Shiflet; and two nieces: Mildred Fitzburgh and Marcella Donovan.
In addition to her musical talents, she co-authored a children's operetta "Kittens," which was performed by students at the Gaston School of the Arts and also at Shenandoah University. She loved to paint in oils and acrylics, and gave paintings to all her friends.
She became a Democrat as soon as she arrived in the U.S., never missed an opportunity to vote, and was very proud of meeting Hilary Clinton when she campaigned in Gastonia.
Genie loved to teach and leaves behind countless former students all over the world, many of whom have used their music as vocations and avocations. They are teachers, concert pianists, composers, conductors, church musicians, choral directors or simply those who learned to love music passionately by spending time with her.
Her family would like to thank the nursing staff, administrators and dear friends at Covenant Village who took such tender care of her and made her feel so loved. They are also grateful to Tiffany Carper and Nan Murphy for giving her the opportunity to continue her teaching career at the Gaston School of the Arts, a delightful bonus so late in her life.
Genie will be missed by many but none so much as her family for whom she was a model of how to live with passion, determination, a love of adventure, dignity, humor and resourcefulness. She had to adapt to many lives and did so with a positive attitude that will continue to inspire all who knew her.
A visitation will be held at Covenant Village, 1351 Robinwood Road, Gastonia, on Saturday, December 29, 2012 from 1-3 p.m. A Celebration of Life will be held 2:00 p.m., Saturday, January 5, 2013 in the Goodson Chapel of Shenandoah University with reception to follow the service. A private service of committal will be held for the family at Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Winchester, VA.
The family suggests that memorial gifts be sent to the Covenant Village Benevolence Fund, 1351 Robinwood Road, Gastonia, NC 28054 or the Eugenia Evans Scholarship Fund, Gaston School of the Arts, 825 Union Road, Gastonia NC 28054.
Condolence messages may be sent online at www.McLeanFuneral.com
McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia and Jones Funeral Home of Winchester, VA are serving the family of Mrs. Evans.
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