Evelyn Weinberger Finds Courage in Caring

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Evelyn Weinberger

Evelyn Weinberger is one of the sparkling stars of FAU's Horizon Society. Although in her lifetime Evelyn has had to face unimaginable losses, she has put aside self-pity and instead believes that "Man plans and God laughs." This timeless Yiddish proverb has helped Evelyn come to terms with the fragility of the world around her. For some people, the uncertainties of life would spark fear; but not for Evelyn, a stunning and tall redhead who takes on every one of life's challenges with humor and spunk.

"With all the health issues I had to deal with and the care I provided, I felt like an honorary nurse," says Evelyn. "It is only natural that Anne Boykin, then Dean of the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and a nurse of highest caliber, would gain my respect. It is because of my friendship with Anne that I became familiar with the wonderful work that goes on in the College. That is what inspired my gift to FAU and the establishment of the Evelyn Weinberger Endowed Scholarship Fund.”

Reflecting on her childhood, Evelyn feels fortunate to have grown up in a thriving cultural center. Trips to the Brooklyn Museum exposed her to great works of art and one of the finest Egyptology collections in the world. The Botanical Gardens was a lush haven in the middle of her bustling urban neighborhood, while the local library nourished her curiosity about ancient civilizations.

"Brooklyn offered me a well-rounded cultural upbringing – an upbringing that became the foundation of my lifelong interests," she says. Her early years also taught her about caring. Her mother and aunt were both nurses and her uncle was a doctor. They served as influential examples to Evelyn, who due to life's circumstances would become the quintessential caretaker of her own family members.

Evelyn met her future husband Albert Weinberger when she was 14 years old. They married young and had two sons – Richard and Donald. Her younger son, Donald, was born with a disabling medical condition and sadly he died at two-years-of-age. Evelyn's mother-in-law was a great source of comfort to her and the two forged an enduring relationship. Her husband was diagnosed with a heart condition and knew that soon he would be unable to work, so with serious financial burdens beginning to pile up, Evelyn had no choice but to work. She found a job, quite by accident, working for a travel agency. Although she had no background in the field, her knowledge of geography and her natural likeability served her well in the fast paced business. She was able to financially support her family as best as she could, care for her husband and son, and learn the travel business while on the job.

After two years at that job, Evelyn heard about a travel agency for sale in Brooklyn. She got loans from everyone she knew, and officially became a small business owner when she bought her own travel agency. She struggled financially with the burden of running the business, yet her sales staff was well paid and unaware that Evelyn herself could not afford to draw upon a salary. "Encore Travel" provided customers with personalized attention. As the store's name suggested, Encore Travel made sure its customers came back again and again. Evelyn's innate business sense guided her as she built the store's upstanding reputation in a diverse neighborhood that was far from affluent. As a merchant she was fair and honest. She truly loved her clients and wove herself into their lives. After 24 years of marriage, Evelyn's husband passed away. Albert's illness was long and difficult, and though she thought she was well prepared for the inevitable, her husband's passing left her grief struck, but she persevered.

Encore Travel gave Evelyn the opportunity to travel throughout the world – the young geography buff who loved reading about foreign lands and antiquities was now grown up and living her dream. She considers trips to Europe, Asia and Israel among her favorite adventures. Her enthusiasm about travel was contagious; Evelyn wanted to make sure that all her customers, regardless of their means, were able to experience the joys of travel – even if the journeys were not to exotic places.

A second marriage in 1977, to a man from the garment trade, brought Evelyn personal fulfillment, but sadly after only eight-and-a-half years her husband passed away from prostate cancer. She worked through the sadness and found comfort in Encore Travel's success and in her interactions with the community that embraced her. An interest in the stock market and a gift for making sound investment decisions brought Evelyn newfound financial stability. She married a third time and eventually sold Encore Travel. Evelyn and her husband traveled and shopped the world. After 15 wonderful years, her husband died from complications of Parkinson's disease.

Her greatest challenge was in 1990, when her son, at age 36, died of cancer. His death left her bereft and desperate for a change in scenery. She left her beloved Brooklyn and moved to Boynton Beach as a full time resident. She has attracted a strong circle of friends, thanks to her outgoing and caring nature. Evelyn is a woman of many interests. She attends cultural events and is particularly fond of opera, ballet and theatre. She is politically minded and has strong convictions.

Perhaps Evelyn's strongest beliefs center on the rights of women. It is not surprising that this self-made woman, who emerged at a time when women were still struggling to be heard, would feel this way. "I believe in equal pay for equal work. A woman should have pride in a job well done. Every woman should be able to stand on her own two feet."

Not too long after moving to Florida, Evelyn met Anne Boykin, then dean of FAU's Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. There was an immediate chemistry between the two, and a relationship formed.

“I hope that my planned gift will open up new opportunities to women and men who want to pursue careers in the field of nursing. Our country needs nurses to fill the great nursing shortage we face now. We have become a nation with a growing aging population and we must be prepared with good nurses who will be ready to meet the health care needs of this elderly population," Evelyn offers.

 

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