Evelyn Smith

    Evelyn was born on June 28, 1908 at Worthington, Minnesota and moved to Gresham OR with her parents Evelyn on her 90th birthday in 1998in 1918.  Then in 1919 moved to a family farm in Boring Oregon.  She graduated from Gresham High School and Linfield College.
    She sold her home in 1974, and moved into an apartment.  She missed her large garden where she raised flowers and vegetables to give to people.  She even moved many of her rose bushes to the yard of the apartment so she could have roses to take to people who were ill.    
She served for many years as Church secretary, Financial secretary and was member of Mission Committee.
    She served on the board of Oregon Baptist Retirement Home as well as board of Christian Women Fellowship of the city and was secretary of both.
    She ended her volunteer work at Lake Retreat Camp on her 80th birthday.  In 1986, she was presented with the distinguished Volunteer Award by Christian Camping International for the United States and was pictured in their national magazine.
    She walked 4 to 5 miles a day until her osteoporosis got so painful.  She gave up her apartment and moved to the Oregon Baptist Retirement Home on  Flanders Street and helped out in the office when she could.
    In 1994, she transferred to the Oregon Baptist Retirement Home on 108th and Halsey to a studio apartment. As she had given up her household things, the ladies at Temple had a shower for her.  In late 1995,Evelyn Smith, Rose Festival Queen for the nursing home. she had a slight stroke and moved to the Assisted Living Building of the retirement homes campus.  Three months later she moved to the Baptist Manor Nursing Home at 900 NE 81st in Portland.  She is in the 3rd month of her 8th year at the nursing home -- not able to talk or write for that length of time.
    She was voted Rose Festival Queen of the Nursing Home in the 1st year she was there.
    The ladies from Temple had a Birthday Party at the nursing home for her 90th Birthday in June,1998.  She will be 96 this June 28th.  She always wore hats and still loves to sit in her wheel chair with a hat on.
    She always enjoyed company and would recognize people.  She always enjoys their visits to hear about all the people she used to know.  Even though she can't respond, she enjoys seeing people.

This account was taken from a letter sent by Evelyn's sister, Linnian Judish on May 11, 2004.

    "Another Dorcas."  That's what the people of Portland, Oregon, call Evelyn Smith.  Like the original, she is "full of good works and acts of charity."

    No one sits to watch frost gather on a windowpane.  The slow process takes place at night while everyone sleeps.  Individual Evelyn Smith picture taken for the 1984 church directory.Picture of Evelyn Smith as appeared in the Standard. strands of ice interweave, spreading themselves across the pane, unseen.  But when the sun's first ray's shine through the glass, the light shatters into a dazzle of colors, and the intricate patterns stand out as a design of beauty.
    Every church has its frost-makers.  They are the ones who work quietly, constantly and usually without an audience.  But when their work is held up to the light, and intricate pattern of love comes clear, and people wonder why they never before noticed.
    Evelyn Smith is a frost-maker at Temple Baptist Church, Portland.
    It is not perfectly true to say that no one sees the work done by Mrs. Smith.  Conference missionaries know her; she writes each one of them every Christmas.  People from Temple who have been in the hospital know her; she will have called or written a card or visited.  Children in a local grade school know her; she comes twice a week to work with some students who need special attention.  Hundreds of others know her, for she has been there when they were hungry or lonely or in need of a ride, and she has done what she could to make things easier.

Passing on God's Love
The woman with the irrepressible twinkle in her eyes retired early, at 62, in order to give more time to volunteer work.  When a co-worker told her she would change her mind, she said, "Not unless I change my philosophy of life."  Helping people, she explained, "is just an attempt to pass God's love on."
    Just as bitter cold is necessary for the beauty of frost, bitter times and loneliness sometimes serve as the impetus for a giving nature.
    Mrs. Smith has survived two husbands, who was in and out of the hospital for eight of the ten years of their marriage, she knew many lonely times.  "We had never gone to church very much, and so not many people knew him," she said.  "I remember once he said something about people from church not visiting.  I always remember wondering, 'Why don't they visit?'"
    Instead of leaving her angry, the experience began a pattern of giving that Mrs. Smith has followed ever since.  She did not want anyone else to feel that alone.
    Mrs. Smith is "everywhere," according to her pastor, Dr. Fred Prinzing.  "She does the necessary things in a church.  She has an instinct to fill in the cracks, plug up the holes.  Even when she goes away for a few days, which she has do do to rest, when she's not out walking she spends time writing cards to people all over the world."
    Letter writing at the beach is an annual event for Mrs. Smith.  Every year she sends to the Conference service center for a current mailing list of missionaries.  Each one gets a handwritten Christmas letter.  For the past 35 years she has written to them, to other missionaries, servicemen and women, college students, even the sick family of friends.
    Because of the cost, she has had to cut back on her correspondence.  "I'm trying to keep it within $200 a year," she said.  When someone writes back she is grateful, but does not expect it.  "Many of these missionaries I'll never hear from.  I don't expect to; they have better things to do with their time.
    "What we do does not depend on the response," she said.  She likes a phrase she once heard: We are to be thermostats, not thermometers.

Just at the Right Moment
"Mrs. Smith has a tremendous sense of timing," Dr. Prinzing said.  "She instinctively goes to those in need without being asked."
    One place where she helps is the Oregon Baptist Retirement Home.  "She walks in at the right moment every time we need help," said Arlene Peterson, the activities coordinator at the retirement home.  That help might include office work or visiting people.  When Miss Peterson had the flu recently, Mrs. Smith came by with custard, something she does for quite a few people when they become ill.
    How does she know when people are in need?  Mrs. Smith can't explain.  "Many, many times I've felt I just must do something and found out later that it came at the most opportune time.  I feel for people who have devastating things happen to them."
    She remembered writing one woman who had had a heart attack. "I sent her a card.  It had a verse on it--I don't remember now what it was.  And she was so excited about that verse."  The woman had been so sick that she told her doctor she wanted to die.  "Then I read that verse,"  she told Mrs. Smith, "and all of a sudden I wanted to live."
    Getting older has curtailed some of Mrs. Smith's activities.  She will be 75 in June.  Several years ago her doctor ordered her to stop working one of the Sunday school bus routes.  Since she could no longer spend that time with the children, she decided to be there to meet them when they got to church.
    She is still there, each Sunday morning, waiting for the bus.  Anyone who gets to church early can probably find her by the door. often kneeling on the steps inside, getting bulletins ready for the worship service.  Or she may be putting on a pot of coffee or out picking up one of five or six people she regularly drives to and from church services.

An Outstanding Volunteer
Not only Temple people know Evelyn Smith.  Two mornings each week she spends time at a local grade school working with Picture from the March 1983 Standard. second graders who have learning problems.
    "I've always liked little kids.  They need help when they're young.  By the time they're in fifth or sixth grade they're almost lost." Mrs. Smith explained.  She laughed, "I'm getting older all the time and I can't spend all of my time with old and sick people."  
    Her dedication led to an Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award from her Neighborhood three years ago.  She went on to be one of ten given honorable mention for the city wide award. 
    On Mondays she organizes lunch for Loaves and Fishes, a service that provides meals for shut-ins and others who rarely get out to see other people.  When she is not serving meals at her assigned retirement home herself. she arranges for someone else to be there.
    She fills other days with taking people to and from the doctor or the store.  Walking, along with a balanced diet and a positive outlook on life, is what keeps her healthy, she believes.
    For the last few years Mrs. Smith has spent five or six weeks every summer as a volunteer at Lake Retreat Baptist Camp.  She pitches in wherever the camp needs help.  
    "She has never retired," Dr. Prinzing said.  "Her only retirement will be to die."
    Whether writing letters or spending time with people, Evelyn Smith's life is centered on others.  She does not make a fuss about it; she would rather not even talk about what she has done.  Instead she prefers to quietly do the work she has set for herself.
    While the spotlight is on her she is grateful, but a little uncomfortable.  When it is lowered she returns to concentrating on the individual strands of her life's work, happy to slowly weave her design.

This article was taken from the March 1983, issue of The Standard.  Used with permission from Shari (Goddard) Shambaugh.

    --Long time member, Evelyn Smith went to be home to be with the Lord on Saturday, May 15th.  Evelyn served in many capacities at Temple and in the community.  She will be remembered for her card and letter writing outreach and her ministry of helping others.  A memorial service will be held at Temple on Saturday, June 5th at 11:00 a.m.--
                               This announcement was copied from the church bulletin for May 23, 2004.

      A memorial service was held at Temple Baptist Church on Saturday, June 5.  Pastor Fred Prinzing spoke at the service.  He compared Evelyn to Anna mentioned in the book of Luke 2:36-38.  She was a temple dweller, widowed one half of her life, was at the temple day and night,  a prayer warrior,  a spontaneous minister, she had the gift of encouragement and shared her faith, she never asked permission to visit some one, she was just there.  Many times when the pastor went to visit some one in the hospital the person said, "Evelyn Smith was here already."  She sent cards, letters, sent cookies to military service personal and missionaries around the world.  When Pastor Prinzing asked how many people at the memorial service received cards, letters, or cookies from Evelyn, most everyone in the audience raised their hand, including myself.

    A note received from Pastor Dave Danielson before the service:  "I certainly wouldn't want to miss the opportunity of expressing my deep gratitude for her.  She was an unusually selfless person.
    Shortly after she retired, she came to me and volunteered to be team secretary and coordinator for our Lifestyle Outreach Ministry at Temple.  Behind the scenes as usual, she invested countless hours in the tasks of mailing, phoning, tabulating the data and encouraging the volunteer teams. 
    Churches during those years were  under-staffed and Evelyn saw the need and stepped in to fill the gap.  I don't know how heavy the stars will be in celestial crowns, but Evelyn's will be abundantly laden indeed"

    The following was read at her memorial service by Don Strandberg:       

She was born in Worthington, Minnesota on June 28, 1908 to Peter and Hildur Ledine.  She came to Gresham June, 1918, andA picture of Evelyn in her college days about 1932 Evelyn with her brother, 2 1/2 years younger and sister 8 years younger. moved to a family farm in Boring the spring of 1919.  She attended Boring Grade School.  She graduated on a Friday evening and awoke the following Monday morning with measles.    During her freshman and sophomore years, she traveled between Boring and Gresham on the interurban railroad that ran between Estacada and Portland, walking one half mile at each end to reach the high school.  Beginning in 1925, the School District started running school busses so for the last two years she rode door to door.  She won several essay contests during those years.  She graduated from Gresham High School in 1927.  During her years in high school, she was honored for not missing one day of school and also for not being tardy once.  She received an engraved cup for her effort.  She received the first college scholarship given at Gresham High School.  
    She was baptized and became a member of the Haley Baptist Church just a few blocks from her home.  She began teaching Sunday School at the age of 14, and continued to do so in two subsequent locations.  She Graduation from Linfield College graduated from Linfield College in 1932, in Evelyn and her first husband, Earl Coffin, taken 1942-52 Social Science as Magna Cum Laude.  She was a member of the Linfield debate team as well as several honorary societies.  During the depression, she headed government nursery schools in Tillamook, Newport, and Vestal Grade School in Portland.  In 1939-1943, she established and conducted Moreland Nursery School in the Westmoreland area.  Poor health led to termination of that project.  She also worked for Montgomery Ward Freight as a router for the Northwest area for 10 years, from 1952, until retirement.  In 1970, she was a member of City of Portland Auditors staff.  
    She married Earl Coffin in 1942, who died in 1952, after a long bout with cancer.  In 1957, she married Hugh Smith who also died of cancer in 1961.   
    She was a member of Temple Baptist Church since 1942.  She served for many years in various capacities on the Mission Committee.  In 1945, she began selling greeting cards part time to raise money to support an  Orphan through Compassion.  One year finances permitted her to be able to support three.  She served on the Board of the Oregon Baptist Retirement Home as well as the Board of Christian Women's fellowship of the cityEvelyn's 70th birthday party at church and was secretary of both.  She organized Evelyn and 2nd husband Hugh Smith.  Evelyn was 49 years old serving groups for Irvington Loaves and Fishes at Dahlke Manor. She helped with the bus ministry at Temple for several years.  She rode the bus on its route and greeted the children as they boarded the bus.  When she was unable to do that, she greeted the children as they arrived at church.  After retirement she spent two mornings per week as a volunteer tutor at Arleta Elementary School and at Rose City Park Elementary School, in Portland.  In 1978, she was honored at a city wide Parent Teachers Association banquet as one of 10 outstanding volunteers for the year.
    Until the summer of her 80th birthday she spent 5 to 6 weeks each summer as a volunteer at Lake Retreat Camp at Ravensdale, Washington.  In 1986, she was presented with the Distinguished Volunteer award by Christian Camping International for the U.S. and was featured in their July-August National Magazine.
    One year one of the younger families at Temple nominated her for the Jefferson award presented in Portland each year.  She became aware of this when KOIN RADIO/TV sent her a letter informing her of the nomination.        
    Evelyn Smith died on May 15, 2004.  A memorial service was held at Temple Baptist Church on Saturday, June 5.

The following article about Evelyn is from the book "Handling Church Tensions Creatively" by Fred W. Prinzing.

    Dr. Prinzing said, when he submitted the manuscript for his book to the publisher it was recommended that he use a real person to be the Tension Adjuster and he immediately thought of Evelyn Smith and this is what he said about her in his book :  (This was almost twenty years ago when the book was written)

Meet Evelyn Smith: Tension Adjuster
    The most effective tension adjuster I have ever known is a woman who is a widow in her seventies.  She has no theological training.  She does not hold any office in the church,  She is an uncommon person with a common name--Evelyn Smith.  She possesses all the qualifications that an effective tension adjuster needs.  I can think of no specific instance or heroic act that qualifies her as a tension adjuster.  But tension adjustment is her way of life.
    Evelyn is a healthy person, spiritually.  Her commitment to the Lord, to the body, and to the leadership of the church is without question.  Although she understands that there are tensions in the church, she is committed to being part of the healing process.  A tension adjuster must be a prayer warrior.  Whenever there is a regular prayer service or a special prayer meeting she is present.  She not only prays, but believes in answers to prayer.
    Her approach to ministry is balanced both within and outside the church.  Her ministry is not confined to one age or to one location.  On a regular basis she helps at the church day care center and tutors at the public school.  During the summer she spends a month working at the church camp.  She also spend time helping at the retirement home associated with the church, and serves hot meals to the elderly in the community.
    A balanced ministry as a tension adjuster must not be locked into the status quo, but must be a growing one.  A concern of Evelyn's is the assimilation of new people into our church.  When she meets new people she makes herself acquainted and then follows up these contracts with phone calls and visits.  When a person leaves the church either temporarily or permanently, Evelyn continues to communicate with him by mail.  Each year she writes hundreds of letters to missionaries, college students and to people in the military.  She shares information about these people with the church staff and congregation.  Her sense of anticipation is amazing.   People in the hospital and in nursing homes receive visits from Evelyn before most people know there is a need.  
    Most people want to work in areas in which they are comfortable.  Evelyn is stretching herself into new areas.  Whenever there is a need for volunteers, she is ready to help.  She helps in the office collating pages for reports and tabulating surveys or making phone calls.  Even without being asked, she volunteers to do such things as putting the inserts in the bulletin on Sunday, and collecting money for the church dinners on Wednesday nights.  For several years she volunteered to assist with the bus ministry in whatever way she could.
    There is a danger when a person is always stretching himself/herself.  Personally, someone can only stretch so far.  Anyone involved in the tension process must be careful to release the tension occasionally.  Twice a year Evelyn goes to a house on the coast so that she can be renewed in body and spirit.  Being a tension adjuster, although it is rewarding work, is hard work.
    Whether there is a need for teachers, a need for finances, or personal needs.  Evelyn remains optimistic.  When the church sets goals she is always optimistic that we will reach our objectives.  Her personal encouraging support of the leadership in our church is invaluable.  I have received dozens of cards and letters over the years from Evelyn.  Many times after a long day, a discouraging experience or upon returning from a trip. I have found a letter from Evelyn in my mail box.

Exciting Days for Tension Adjusters
Picture of Evelyn, taken from the 1995 church directory
    Everyone cannot be an Evelyn Smith.  She is a unique person with unique gifts.  But everyone can do his or her part to adjust the tensions in the church.  
    We need to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy tension in the church.  Satan will use tension to undermine the unity and purity of the church.  As the problems in the world and in the community increase, so do the problems that the church faces.  The church is not only under attack from outside, but also at times from within.  There is pressure to lower the moral standards and to compromise biblical beliefs.  There are those who want to take shortcuts and to abandon the pursuit of excellence in the church.
    These are exciting days.  Not only are the last days characterized by evil, but also by opportunity,  Of all the times in history, these are the most challenging.  In every church we need people to creatively help adjust tensions.  People in churches like yours and mine.  People like Evelyn Smith. People like you.

Used with permission from Dr. Fred Prinzing   


    "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," 
Hebrews 12:1 

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