South Bend, Indiana
December 22, 2005
Many Thanks to Ida Chipman for graciously allowing us to reproduce this article.

Tribune Correspondent

PLYMOUTH -- Evelyn Pearl Funk is unforgettable. She died in a nursing home Dec. 15, nine days before her 81st birthday.

Her philosophy of life -- and one she truly lived by -- was, "If I can't help people, I don't want to be here on this earth."

Because of her physical disabilities, she couldn't help much in the late years of her life. It distressed her considerably.

The things she gave to people can't be measured in dollars and cents.

"Didn't have much of that anyhow," she said in an interview five years ago.

Blood, sweat and laughter -- those were the things Evelyn Funk gave freely to everyone in her path.

The blood part was easy.

In 1952, she gave the first pint of blood collected by the Plymouth Red Cross Chapter. By the time she was forced to stop, because of her declining health, she had donated 16 gallons.

She held that record for a long time.

A volunteer with the Older Adult Program of South Bend for more than 25 years, Evelyn was a fixture at Garden Court West in Plymouth.

Five days a week, she helped serve REAL Services meals to seniors who came to enjoy the food and companionship.

She said that she did "whatever needed to be done. I go where I am needed. I help where I can."

For seven years, she drove the van taking older adults for doctor's appointments and grocery shopping.

She always worked hard. A 1943 Plymouth High School graduate , she married Gawain Funk in 1945.

For 10 years, Evelyn worked at Hart, Schaffner and Marx in Rochester. She later worked in Plymouth restaurants as a waitress and as an aide in local nursing homes.

Gawain died in 1978.

Evelyn became a "cabbie," driving the Plymouth area for several years and, in 1985, joined the Neighborhood Center Council. She worked there as a volunteer, employee, officer and friend.

She faithfully followed Plymouth High School sports and attended all the basketball games.

She was an exuberant fan, pounding on the backs of fellow spectators at a good play and holding her head at a bad one. When she was not able to drive anymore, she followed the play-by-play over the radio and refused to answer her telephone or doorbell during the action.

She had a wonderful laugh and used it a lot.

An avid reader, Evelyn enjoyed her Harlequin romances. "That's how I get my lovin," she would joke.

She went through all of the chairs of the auxiliary of the Women of the Moose, played Bingo in the Wal-Mart cafeteria and, for years, was a daily caller into the local radio station with jokes and opinions.

"I'm not shy," she said. "I am always ready to express my opinions."

With all of that, perhaps the biggest contribution Evelyn made was helping raise the two sons of her daughter, Neysa McFarland who, after her divorce, moved back to Plymouth.

"I worried about Charlie when he was growing up," Evelyn said. "There were some obstacles to overcome, but he did it and I thank God every day that he did."

Charlie has made a successful career in the U.S. Army with the Green Berets.

Clarence, on the other hand, wanted desperately to be an airline pilot. Not just any airline, but a United Airline pilot.

"That's wasn't easy," she said, "a bi-racial kid with no money, no contacts, just a burning desire to succeed -- well, you can imagine how difficult that was."

Clarence is now a United Airlines captain flying an international route, living in Las Vegas, Nev.

Her determination, undying love and belief honed her beloved grandsons into the men that they have become.

Evelyn Funk was one of a kind.

She will be missed.

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