Evelyn Rice Goodman
May 10, 1916 – March 10, 2018
When Life magazine sent a photographer out to Denver during World War II assigned to shoot a photo essay on a day in the life of a high society lady, the New York editors must have wondered why one of his shots focused on a beautiful young cosmetics model instead. Standing behind her department store counter, as if at a podium, it’s clear that the camera can’t get enough of her.
That elegant lady, Evelyn Rice Goodman, died March 10, at 101, in El Paso, her adopted hometown for more than seven decades. Her life took her from a small wood frame farmhouse in Parker, Idaho (pop. 435 in 1915), to Denver after high school in search of a bigger stage and on to an active civic life in El Paso.
Evelyn went to college for a short time in Denver but had to leave during the Depression to find work, landing the perfect job for her at Montaldo’s, a posh Denver department store, where her warm personality and sensational looks brought in lots of customers who wanted to look just like her.
It also earned her a promotion to Beverly Hills, California, and then, just after the war, her manager asked her to come to London and help train saleswomen for the growing cosmetics company. Evelyn was tempted, but before she accepted the job she called a beau she’d met in Denver and told him about the opportunity.
“I’ll be there in two days,” he told her, from El Paso. Two weeks later, Evelyn and David Goodman were married and, after a honeymoon in La Jolla, drove east to El Paso to start a marriage that lasted 63 years, until David’s death in 2009.
Evelyn’s participation in El Paso community life began the minute she arrived here. In her first of many volunteer positions, at William Beaumont Army Hospital as a Gray Lady, she ministered to burned soldiers returning from war, helping the men write letters home and make phone calls to their loved ones.
She discovered a talent for leadership and went on to serve two terms as President of the El Paso City Council Parents and Teachers Association. She was also President of the Zach White PTA, National Council of Jewish Women, UTEP Women’s Auxiliary and Brandeis University Auxiliary—El Paso branch. Her leadership at McCall Day Nursery led to a life time focus on child welfare, and The El Paso Times honored her as their “Woman of the Week” for her contributions to civic life.
Evelyn loved to garden, and brought her home in the Upper Valley to bloom with over fifty rose bushes, and fruit trees, included a particularly beautiful peach tree planted with the help of one her grandsons when he was a child.
Even late in her life, Evelyn maintained her commitment to the welfare of children. She and her husband David established an endowment fund for Vilas School, David’s elementary school in Sunset Heights, and she went there often to celebrate the children’s accomplishments with them.
Our darling Evelyn had a beautiful singing voice, and while working in her garden, or sitting with a child, she might suddenly be heard singing softly the ballad “Red River Valley,” about cowboys and leaving home and remembering the ones who loved you so true.
She is survived by her four children, Jay Leonard, JoEllen Goodman Weiss, Jon Monte (Lois) and Janis Goodman Weiss, and five grandchildren, Jacob, Sarah and Charlotte Weiss, and Ben and Nick Weiss.
In addition to her husband, she is preceded in death by her brother-in-law, Archie Goodman, her son-in-law John David Weiss (Janis) and an infant granddaughter.
Donations can be made to the David and Evelyn Goodman Vilas School Achievement Fund of the El Paso Community Foundation, Congregation B’nai Zion, or Temple Mt. Sinai Caring Community Fund.
The Goodman family expresses its heartfelt thanks to Connie, Reyna, Lily, and Dr. Dwayne Aboud for their care and compassion.
Services entrusted to Martin Funeral Home West, 128 N. Resler Drive. www.martinfuneralhomewest.com
- Jewish Funeral Rite Tuesday, March 13, 2018