Elfrieda “Frieda” Evanoff, a Toledo-area nurse, church missionary, nature interpreter, and American Red Cross volunteer, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer in Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg. She was 72.
“She was just a really gracious person,” her sister-in-law, Denise Spohler, said. “Even in her illness, as she heard about other people being ill, she was able to exude that graciousness from herself.”
Born June 15, 1940, in Toledo, Mrs. Evanoff, who lived in Maumee, was a 1958 DeVilbiss High School graduate. In 1961, she graduated from the Toledo Hospital school of nursing.
She married the late Boris G. Evanoff on Oct. 13, 1962, former commander of the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard, based at Toledo Express Airport.
While her husband was associated with the Ohio National Guard, she traveled with him to Hawaii, England, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, and Italy. Later, on their own, the couple visited their Old World families in Germany, Bulgaria, and Morocco.
During the 1970s, the couple owned and operated a Christian book store on West Wayne Street in Maumee. During the 1990s, Mrs. Evanoff was employed by the Northwest Ohio Mental Health Center in Toledo as a nurse. She also worked as a surgical nurse at Toledo Hospital, as an industrial nurse at Owens-Illinois Technical Center on Westwood Avenue in Toledo, and as a nurse in the Red Cross blood bank program at various times in her career.
During her time with the Red Cross, which began as a volunteer, she assisted with recovery efforts in Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, along the Missouri River after flooding there in 1993, and in Los Angeles after its mammoth earthquake of 1994. The latter was one of America’s worst natural disasters, with a death toll of 57 people, more than 8,700 people injured, and $20 billion in damages.
Mrs. Evanoff was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Maumee, where she sang in the choir and supervised funeral luncheons. As a member of that church, she made three missionary trips to Guatamala.
“Frieda loved to live life,” Mrs. Spohler said. “She had an adventuresome spirit, she had a natural curiosity.”
Mrs. Evanoff’s daughter, Julie Ford, said her mother found it “very important to have friends and family.”
“That was a hallmark of hers,” Julie Ford said. “She had a larger family, a church community. She had many, many groups she was involved in.”
Mrs. Ford described her mother as “adventurous and very compassionate,” a woman with a lot of loyalty, integrity, and warmth who was highly active until she became ill.
“She was a contemporary woman but also very traditional,” her daughter said.
Mrs. Evanoff became an interpretive ranger at Pipe Spring National Monument in Arizona in 2002, three years after her husband died. She became more passionate about America’s park system from that experience in the Southwest.
Upon her return to Toledo, she became a Toledo Metroparks volunteer and eventually an employee. She gave tours of the Manor House at Wildwood Metropark, where she also organized teas and other events. She boxed up leftover food and took it to people in need, Marge Dembowski, retired Manor House supervisor, said.
“She was one of the most caring people in the Manor House,” Ms. Dembowski said. “She was a gem, she truly was a gem. She was like the nurse and the heart at the Manor House when I was there.”
Mrs. Evanoff’s world travel also included a trip to the Galapagos Islands. She was an avid reader and enjoyed Toledo Symphony concerts.
In a 1993 interview, Mrs. Evanoff told The Blade she was inspired to do crisis volunteer work to help people get back into a home.
“It’s such a deep experience to lose your home,” she said at the time, explaining it was at first difficult for her to understand why people would sit around their homes after the roofs were gone. “But it was the only thing they had, and if they walked away from it, maybe they would never be able to come back,” she was quoted as saying.
Surviving are her son, Jay; daughter, Julie; brother, Norman, and three grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday and 1 to 3 p.m. Friday at Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, 501 Conant St., Maumee.
Services will be at 3 p.m., Saturday, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 112 E. Wayne St., Maumee.
The family suggests tributes to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
Contact Tom Henry at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6079.
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