Evelyn White , age 89, resident of Boynton Beach , Florida , passed away on Monday, August 3, 2020.
-Evelyn Matthews White-
Evelyn Matthews White, wife of Howard A. White; mother to Adrienne Britto; step-mother to Wendel (Jack) White; grandmother to Ashley Hayes and Amanda White; mother-in law to Anthony Britto and Carmela Colon White; daughter of Middie and James Matthews; big sister to Gloria Matthews Webster (who has gone to glory); former sister- in-law and childhood friend to Dr. Nathaniel Webster; aunt to Natalai (aka Enji) Hughes and her husband Neal Hughes, and Beverly Polk; great-aunt to Aysia Polk, Raheem Hargrave and Adam Coleman (who has gone to glory); and, great-grandmother to Amira Hayes and great-great-aunt to Jeremiah Hargrave. Evelyn was also a beloved granddaughter to Lewis Parker and Lessie Milbourne Parker; niece to
Vaden (aka Vaddie) Parker – all who have gone to glory, and a loving and caring family member to numerous relatives among the Milbourne, Matthews and Parker clans.
Evelyn was born on February 26, 1931 in Queens, New York, to Middie Lorraine (Lee) Matthews (aka Bubbie) and James Matthews (aka Bub). She and her younger sister Gloria lived a nomadic life. They shuttled between Temperanceville, Virginia, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and New York City, as their parents rotated between being successful shop keepers in Virginia and in private duty household service in New York City.
At the tender age of about 8 years old, Evelyn’s parents sent her and Gloria to the well-respected Palmer Institute in North Carolina. The school was an exemplary educational institution and finishing school for children of color where she began to hone her academic skills, learned the nuances of becoming a proper young lady, and how to traverse the then society immersed in Jim Crow (racial segregation).
Upon graduation from Palmer Institute, Evelyn returned to Virginia to figure out her next steps. While she did so, she worked briefly as a multi-grade school teacher in a rural, segregated one-room Virginia schoolhouse that only had a potbelly stove for heat. She also helped her grandparents and parents with their respective country stores by working as an unpaid ‘soda jerk’ and ‘gas pump jockey.’
After a family discussion, Evelyn, at the age of 15 in 1946, entered the famed HBCU Howard University located in Washington, DC. Three years later at the age of 18 (after having gone to summer school each year) she graduated with honors with a degree in Political Science – the first college graduate in her immediate family.
Once Evelyn completed her studies at Howard University, she applied to work oversees in Europe on behalf of the federal government. But, because she was under the age of 21, her application was rejected. She was disappointed but shook off the rejection and actively worked to find employment stateside.
Evelyn found her footing in New York City as she and her mother worked to support themselves and to financially ensure that her sister Gloria could complete her studies and graduate from Hampton University. Once that goal was achieved, she eloped with her college love, Albert Barnes. Albert had attended Morehouse College for one year before enlisting in the Navy and returned as a veteran to Howard University to complete his studies in social work. In the early 1950s, they made a life in southern California by buying a small home in a former orange grove. Evelyn worked as a first-grade teacher and Albert worked as a psychiatric social worker. The marriage was blessed with one child, Adrienne. The marriage, however, did not last.
As a single mother in the late 1950s through the late 1960s, Evelyn raised her daughter with the help of her mother. She worked primarily as an elementary school teacher in the NYC public school system. Simultaneously, she attended New York University (NYU) Law School, at night.
In 1963, Evelyn graduated with a Juris Doctor from NYU, having successfully achieved Law Review status several times. Post-graduation, Evelyn participated in an effort by then United States Attorney General, Robert Kennedy (President John F. Kennedy’s brother) to attract and retain more federal government workers of color. To that end, in 1963, Evelyn secured her first position as a staff attorney at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where she met her future husband and love of her life, Howard A. White. Howard had served as a senior attorney at the FCC during her tenure.
In 1965, Evelyn secured a position as a staff attorney working for New York City’s Mental Health Information Services. She provided legal representation to city mental health patients who sought discharge based on applicable provisions of the law and writs of habeas corpus in the New York State Supreme Court.
In 1968, Evelyn became a staff attorney and acting regional counsel for New York City’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). She was responsible for interpreting the Economic Opportunity Act and regulations governing programs designed to eradicate poverty, including the renowned Head Start and Legal Services programs.
In 1968, after having known each other since working as colleagues at the FCC, Evelyn and Howard married. They immediately began the process of creating a blended family with her daughter, Adrienne and his son, Jack.
Now, Mrs. White, Evelyn continued to practice corporate law from 1970 through 1976, notably helping to plan the development and construction of the Alaska Pipeline. Evelyn’s thirst for knowledge was legendary. So, after consciously stepping back from practicing law, she decided to become a pastoral counselor. To that end, between 1981 and 1996 she enrolled in two,New York City seminaries: Union Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary. Upon graduation she respectively earned a Masters in Divinity, with a specialty in Psychiatry and Religion, and a Masters in Sacred Theology, with a specialty in Spiritual Direction. While Evelyn was ready to take on additional coursework for a PhD, her husband smiling cut her off by saying “no more school for you!” She relented…. she knew she had dipped her toe into the academic pool one too many times. Evelyn, however, used her recently acquired pastoral skills to help a variety of people and causes. Notably, she worked with both male and female prisoners in separate correctional facilities in upstate NY where she endeavored to give them guidance to help rethink their lives and more effectively relate to their families. Evelyn gave respect and received respect in return.
From the inception of their marriage, Evelyn and her husband Howard continued to nurture both their immediate and extended families. Special, loving attention was given to their beloved children Wendel and Adrienne, and their respective spouses, and their now grown granddaughters - Amanda and Ashley. Later in life she welcomed her only great-grandchild, Amira, a bright 7-year-old who loves to read as much as her ‘great granny.’ Evelyn never met a book she did not like. A fully shelved library was always a must. Fiction, non-fiction, it did not matter.
Evelyn remained a consistent nurturer within her family. Clearly, that was evident when her husband became ill. With help from family, she cared for Howard day and night making sure all of his needs were met until he gently passed in 2009 – doing so with her son Jack by her side. Ultimately, her memory loss became more apparent. But even during mini bouts of clarity, she still showed her love and concern. She would ask: “Are you, OK? “How’s work?” “Have you eaten, yet?” Or, say something hilarious and a bit cheeky. And, when in the mood, which was most times, she would show family and her formal care givers her smooth dance moves while she listened to her beloved music. Boy, she loved music! Lyrics, she knew them all. She especially loved the Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’, Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over troubled Waters’, 1960s R & B, and classic Jazz, just as she and Howard enjoyed in the early days.
Not only did she love listening to music, she also could play a mean ‘hambone’ on her thigh’; make the best standing rib roast and broiled lamb chops; loved yoga; raise wonderful kitties: Sophie, Twinkle and Isabella; could work a mini-trampoline; create special one-on-one adventures for she and her grandchildren; tap dance and do soft shoe; and, she could walk 3+ miles in hilly terrain in the cold without batting an eye.
At 5 feet and ¼ inch, per her, never forget that extra ¼ inch (smile), Evelyn was an amazing, strong, kind, thoughtful and intelligent woman from NYC by way of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. A true Virginia girl….She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-granny and auntie. And, she was always a defender of those in need and always a good and devoted friend.
Evelyn was an amazing woman that will never be forgotten and always remembered with much love.
Rest in Peace dearest Evelyn,
Your Loving Family
Because of the need for health related social distancing, a formal memorial service for Evelyn will be held in the near future - a date, place and time to be determined. Thank you for your love and support.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.lakesidefuneralcare.com for the White family.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted into the care of the Lakeside Funeral Home & Cremation Care Family, "Where Every Life is Cherished & Every Family is Treasured"
ADDRESS: 11347 OKEECHOBEE BLVD, ROYAL PALM BEACH, FL. 33411
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