Remarks Made at Evelyn Wallraff's Memorial Service
Feb. 10, 2001
by Barbara Wallraff

My brother, Dean Wallraff, had to cancel a business trip to France to be here, and my husband, Julian Fisher, had to postpone a trip to England.
     And I can just hear Evelyn's voice now: "Oh, no, don't do that. You won't be able to get your money back for the tickets – you did buy them at a discount fare, didn't you? Then they're probably nonrefundable. And I'll be dead, so it won't make the least bit of difference to me."
     Fifteen or twenty years ago now, Evelyn had a heart attack, and after she awoke to consciousness in the hospital, almost her first words to my father were to remind him that the coupons on some bonds had matured that day and he should be sure to get down to the bank and clip them.
     Evelyn Wallraff was a very practical woman, and in some ways a very unsentimental one. And yet she always used that practicality and that shrewdness in the service of the people she cared about. She was very proud to have a son and a son-in-law with international business projects and interests; a daughter and a daughter-in-law accomplished in the arts – and she was unfailingly generous to us all. She was proud to be a member of this church – and felt honored whenever she could be of service to it. With her many friends, she hovered between bluntness, that same self-effacingness that her family knew so well – she wanted never to be intrusive - and deep sympathy and solicitude. She took enormous pleasure in her connections to you and the things you did together.
     I think her life often amazed her - the youngest of five children in a Catholic artisan's family in Chicago, grown up to be a college science professor and live in Arizona and travel the world. I will be forever grateful to her for setting me on a path toward a life of my own that amazes me. Evelyn died at a time when she was reaping the well-deserved rewards of her life. When she left us, she had happy plans to look forward to, and a long lifetime's worth of wonderful memories to reflect on.
     The last time she came to visit me in Boston, she did something she had done on previous visits: she tucked a piece of paper into my hand listing the latest information about where the folders containing her income-tax returns were, the names of her doctor and her lawyer, and all that sort of thing. The last item on the page was the name and phone number of the funeral home where she had signed up as a member of the memorial society almost thirty years ago. She was no more flighty about death than she was about many other things. She'd probably tell us not to be silly and carry on about missing her. But of course we do.