Evelyn M. Franklin | Obituary

April 7, 1927-Dec. 14, 2020

Born in 1927, Evelyn was raised on a dairy farm together with her sister Millie, younger by 4 years, by parents Arthur and Lucy Miller near the small northern Minnesota town of Verndale.  Evie graduated valedictorian of her high school class in 1945.  Moving away from the farm to the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, she obtained a B.S. degree in Related Art and Business in 1949.  In 1951 she earned an M.A. in Interior Design from the University of Minnesota College of Home Economics.  At college, she met her future husband and absolute love of her life, Donald Raymond Franklin, and they were married in June 1949.  Don, a biologist and avid naturalist, saw a deep love of nature and keen aesthetic talent in Evelyn.  Together Don and Evie spent years exploring the natural world.

After graduation, Evie worked as the Staff Interior Designer for the Hotel Dyckman in Minneapolis (1950-1953) Instructor in the Related Art Department of the University of Minnesota (1953 -1959) while Don completed his graduate work. In 1959 the couple left Minnesota, spending a year in Winnipeg before moving to Ann Arbor, following Don’s career as a Fisheries biologist.

In 1960, Don and Evie gave birth to the first of three children: Julie, followed by Tara in 1962, and Shawna in 1965. Don’s work in Fisheries Biology had taken them from Minnesota, to Manitoba, Canada, then Ann Arbor, Michigan, and finally, in 1961, to Logan, Utah. In 1966, Don met a tragic and untimely death. From Logan, Evelyn packed up the family and moved back to Minnesota where she could begin to put her personal and professional life back together. Evelyn raised Julie, Tara, and Shawna in close proximity to her sister Millie Vaccarella and husband Dr. R. James Vaccarella, M.D. and their two children, Eric and Matthew Vaccarella. Together their families remained extremely close as they celebrated birthdays, holidays, and very often had special dinners and picnics together.

Evelyn taught in the University of Minnesota College of Home Economics, where in 1980 she obtained a Ph.D. in Housing. Evelyn became a well-loved Professor of Housing. She was instrumental in developing the curriculum for the new Housing Program and teaching many of its core undergraduate and graduate courses. She taught design and housing courses full-time until her retirement at the age of 68 in 1995. Evelyn was a founding Board member of Project for Pride in Living (PPL), a Minneapolis non-profit started in 1972 that continues to this day to provide sustainable, affordable housing solutions and career readiness training to low-income residents.

Evelyn was a forever champion and companion to her daughter Tara, who had Down Syndrome. Tara became a socially accomplished, well-loved and respected adult. Tara proudly worked in food service and earned her keep for 26 years, and resided at home with her mom. Evelyn continued to support the developmentally disabled community throughout her life.

In 2009, Evelyn and Tara followed Millie to Orcas Island to live with Shawna and her husband Leon Sommé, and to be nearer to Julie and her husband, Menelaos Kafkalidis and twin grandchildren Sarah and Spyridon Kafkalidis, who live in the greater Seattle area. Tara was 54 at the time of her passing in 2016, and had struggled with a fast cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s. Two years after Tara’s passing, Evelyn again followed Millie, this time with a move into Chandler’s Square, a retirement community in Anacortes, WA. Chandler’s offered Evelyn more independence with its easy walking proximity to the numerous shops, bookstores, restaurants and art galleries of Anacortes. She was comfortable, happy and close to her family these past 3 years.

December 14, 2020 – Evelyn indeed had an untimely death, as she was a pedestrian that day crossing the street in a crosswalk with a green light in her favor, and was struck by a motorist who simply did not see her. Her family is tasked with moving forward with grace and forgiveness, and with remembering Evelyn’s long, full, and vibrant life. She was out doing something she absolutely loved: taking a walk outdoors, witnessing the life around her and being amazed with life’s many details and vistas. Every tree she could stand and gaze at, every forest she stood in, every shrub or plant she brushed with her walking stick to smell or see more closely, every garden she passed, she marveled at. Each mountain had a shape and a color and a feeling, and each daily skyscape was “the most beautiful sky I have ever seen.”

A memorial celebration and gathering will take place sometime this summer in Anacortes, WA (contact: kafka.julie@yahoo.com). Evelyn’s ashes will be taken to Minnesota by Shawna and Julie to be buried alongside her beloved husband Donald R. Franklin and her beloved daughter, Tara L. Franklin at the Fort Snelling burial site.

We ask that any memorial gifts be sent in honor of Evelyn M. Franklin to one of Evelyn’s favorite organizations: World Wildlife Fund, 1250 24th Street, N.W.,Washington, DC 20037; The National Audubon Society, ATTN: Donations, 225 Varick Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10014; The Sierra Club, National Headquarters , 2101 Webster St Suite 1300, Oakland, CA 94612; Project for Pride in Living, 1035 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404, phone: 612-455-5100.