Evelyn (Wahl) Carlson, originally of Paynesville, Minnesota, passed away peacefully on April 21 in Eden Prairie, at age 95 and three days.
She was preceded in death by her husband (Dick), sister (Shirley Keller) and son (Doug). She is survived by sons Dave (Karen), Ken (Heidi), and Jeff (Toni), grandchildren Jill, Mike, Pam, Kelley and Rachael, and five great-grandchildren. A celebration of life is anticipated at a later time, with details to come.
The first of three daughters to Harvey and Ethel Wahl, she spent much of her childhood playing outside and waiting with anticipation for letters from her father. He was serving in the Navy during World War II.
Evie had a lifelong love of music, the piano in particular. She could play by ear at an early age, and she explained that she considered written notes “a beginning.” During holidays and get-togethers with family and friends, much of the time would be spent around Evie at the piano. No one was ever able to stump her by calling out for a song – she simply knew them all. She studied music at Hamline University, where she met her husband Dick during her freshman English class. They dated throughout college and married in 1950, with Evie working as a school librarian until their four boys – Dave, Doug, Ken and Jeff – came along and kept her on her toes. She laughed when recalling the chaos of the household, saying that she’d often find herself calling out all of their names whenever she needed one of them, “and I’d even yell for the dog for good measure!”
The family spent time at their cabin on Lake Washburn, which they started building themselves in 1971. Almost every Friday, Evie would pack up the car, and once Dick arrived home from work, they would all head out to the lake, with the boys doing their homework on the drive. Evie loved going to the cabin with her boys. It remained a vacation spot for the extended family for nearly 50 years.
Evie glowed when she was with the boys, smiling serenely at their boisterous conversations before inevitably shooting someone a twinkling side-eye and asking, “Do they ever talk about anything other than tires?” She had a razor-sharp wit and a gentle self-deprecation that always landed where intended. She was an avid knitter of afghans, dish towels, and anything else that was relatively square in shape – she wasn’t a fan of following patterns. She’d donate them and give the dish towels out to her family, telling them to use them for “the grubbiest jobs! These are meant to get dirty!”
Evie was active in her church community throughout her life, where she often accompanied the services on piano and organ. She and Dick had a winter home in Phoenix in the Friendly Village of Orangewood community. They enjoyed golfing, swimming, and checking in on their snowbird friends every year. Evie chose to stay in Minnesota permanently to be closer to her family following Dick’s death in 2000, and never once complained about being back on the frozen tundra – she was just happy to be home.
She began volunteering to play piano at The Colony (now called The Waters) in Eden Prairie after the loss of her son, Doug, to cancer in 2009 – she found comfort and a sense of community there. She moved into its assisted living facility in 2013. Her transition into memory care in 2017 was smooth and seamless due to her unending cheerfulness and good humor. She was still a quick wit, lightning-fast with a comeback, and could still be put on the spot with a song request at the piano and absolutely nail it. Amazingly, she was still working her volunteer job – playing piano for memory care – when she herself was a patient there until recently when her dementia took over. You are always in our hearts, mom.
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