Susan Jean Murphy Evans, 73, a 15-year resident of South Florida, passed away at dawn on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021, in Charlottesville, Virginia, due complications from Parkinson's and heart disease.
Born February 27, 1948 in Brewer, Maine, to Eugene Murphy and Juanita Wombolt Murphy, Susan attended Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, received a Bachelor's of Science from James Madison University, and a Masters of Social Work from New York University.
Susan chose social work as a profession as the result of riding on the New York Subway and seeing a black and white poster developed by the Y & R Agency that showed a picture of residents of Harlem sitting on their front stoops that said, "Give a Damn." The New York Urban Coalition Give a Damn Campaign, with the tagline "give money, give jobs, give a damn," was put to music in a song of the same name by Spanky and Our Gang.
Susan served as a social worker for Manhattan Criminal Court, an experience that she said was captured perfectly in the description of the "maw of the criminal justice system" by Tom Wolf in "The Bonfire of the Vanities."
Next, Susan worked at the Mount Loretto Orphanage on Staten Island, helping the orphanage's young men rise above the traumas of abandonment and poverty and develop the emotional and practical skills to live productive lives, a goal with which Susan found occasional success and great satisfaction.
Susan met her future husband, Craig Evans, while living in a group brownstone on 101st and Broadway in Manhattan, where they both made life-long friends, including each other. They were married at Windows on the World on December 27, 1980, 21 years before the September 11, 2001 attacks destroyed the World Trade towers.
During their courtship, Susan and her husband-to-be moved to Washington, DC, where Susan became a Certified Fundraising Raising Executive (CFRE) after a friend asked her to help raise funds for the Action on Smoking and Health's (ASH's) campaign to ban smoking in public buildings, restaurants, public transit, and airplanes.
Susan combined her passions for the environment, social work, and fundraising by establishing the fundraising programs for the National Association of Social Workers and the House of Ruth; expanding the fundraising development programs for Defenders of Wildlife, the Sports Fishing Institute, Trout Unlimited, Center for Jury Studies, and the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions in Washington, D.C., and leading a successful capital campaign for the Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation in McLean, Virginia.
After the couple moved to Florida in 1997, Susan became the director of development for Kid's in Distress in Ft. Lauderdale, which is dedicated to preventing child abuse, preserving families, and treating children who have been abused and neglected.
Susan built the development department from a staff of two to a staff of 24 that used every fundraising approach from direct mail to special events to major donor recruitment and multi-million dollar endowments to increase the organization's budget from $3 million to $17 million per year.
Susan also led a successful capital campaign that expanded Kids in Distress from three buildings to a five-acre campus with 24-hour emergency care shelters for abused and neglected children, infant-up-to-18-year-old housing with group parents providing educational, trauma, and mental and physical health services, as well as a family counseling clinic and foster care and adoption programs.
Char Mollison, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Social Enterprise at George Mason University, wrote in her capacity as the vice president of membership and development for the Independent Sector, a national coalition of nonprofit organizations, foundations, and corporate giving programs, that "I consider Susan to be the finest development professional I have known in my 25 years of work in the nonprofit sector."
Susan also created development programs for nine nonprofit organizations in Northern Virginia and Palm Beach County, Florida, that had limited or no fund raising history, and built a large-donor and endowment program to create a director of development position and fund the restoration and maintenance of the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, a historical 35-acre beachfront estate in Ft. Lauderdale that preserves one of the last examples of South Florida's native barrier island habitat with five distinct ecosystems.
In Charlottesville, Virginia, Susan contributed to and expanded the fund raising programs for Hospice of the Piedmont, the AIDS Services Group, and Habitat for Humanity.
Susan is survived by her husband, Craig Evans of Charlottesville, Virginia; her son, Dylan Quincy Evans of San Diego, California; her sister, Linda Gallagher Myrick of Barnwell, South Carolina; a nephew, Special Forces Company Commander and National Capitol Region Liaison Officer U.S. Army Major William Myrick, his wife, Gracyn, and grandnephew, Liam Myrick, of Washington, D.C.; as well as a niece, Rebecca Gallagher Brandon, her husband, John Brandon, and a grandniece, Josephine, and grandnephew, Wilkins Brandon of Charleston, South Carolina.
Donations in her memory may be made to Hospice of the Piedmont, 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Suite 300, Charlottesville, VA 22911, https://www.hopva.org/donate-online-now/