From Dr. Kaarlo Hartiala, Turku, Finland, Evelyn's brother
The long and exhausting health struggle of my sister has come to an end. Even with advanced age, death is always an unexpected visitor that leaves a vacuum for us. Evelyn visited Finland with Warren just a year ago. We realized it was a farewell to our father at his grave in Pori, as well as to usher brother, her nieces and nephews and other relatives here in Finland. Her mind remained clear throughout the following months, so the news of her rapid physical deterioration came as a surprise.
As a consolation for us we realize that she left a glorious career for us to admire.
After the return of our family to Finland from the US in 1927, she found she had a deficiency in the Finnish language to catch up with for school, but with extra effort and perseverance she graduated from high school with exceptional marks. At that time there was only one medical school in Finland and annually only some 30 students were accepted. In order to begin medical studies you had to compete with hundreds of applicants in the pre-medicine subjects, physics, chemistry, biology, but she was chosen. After enrolling she had to live a frugal life due to the limited amount of money available even for food.
Before she had completed her medical school studies World War Two intervened and our cruel neighbor, Russia, invaded our small country. Our home region, Karelia, was first occupied then ceded to the conqueror. This was a hard time both physically and emotionally. During the war, Evelyn was appointed to serve as a local medical officer in our home parish, where our father was a Lutheran minister. The time was very difficult since hardly any food was available to anyone and our father, ethically strict, refused to accept black market produce. This led to his becoming seriously malnourished, ill and near death. Evelyn heard about his condition while working in another city and rushed to his side. Thanks to Evelyn's determination and quick action, he was placed on a late night goods train and shipped to Helsinki where he was able to get the treatment he needed. Father recovered and lived another 14 years after this incident. I mention this simply to illustrate the hard time we had in Finland then, and as evidence of Evelyn's strong character.
When we moved to Finland Evelyn was already a young teenager, and she left behind all of our mother's relatives and many school friends. This was the main reason that she, together with our sister Edith, moved back to the United States in 1946. Not long before that we had lost our mother who was only 49 at her death. These two young women began to build their new life with only the $100 they were allowed to bring with them. The warm relationship with our uncles and their families was essential for their success. We are especially grateful to Uncle John Wargelin, former president of Suomi College and former head of the Finnish Lutheran Church in America, for his assistance.
Evelyn was really lucky. She was chosen as a fellow at the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to begin her specialty studies in pediatrics. Soon after her graduation she was appointed to important posts in Cincinnati, with the state of Minnesota and finally with the Minneapolis Health Department. She did pioneering work with maternal and child health care, directing several demanding and innovative projects, many focused on helping the poor. She also became a lecturer and associate professor in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.
I have always been very proud of my sister, and I'm pleased to have had regular contact with her during her last months in spite of the long distance separating us. We visited each other frequently both here in Finland and in the US over the years. My own children and their families thankfully also had close contact with their aunt. My oldest daughter, Anja, as Evelyn's goddaughter, provided another important tie to keep us close. And we are all grateful to Warren who faithfully supported her through the last days and minutes of her life.
I close with a Finnish verse:
Deserved is now the final rest
Since finished is the task,
May peace follow the mass
For the diligent among the best.
I will miss you.
With love, your brother Kaarlo