Nina Evelyn Woodruff (known by friends as Evelyn), age 79, passed away on August 4, 2013, at the E.T. York Haven Hospice Center in Gainesville. She was born on May 24, 1934, in Urbana, Ohio, daughter of Gladys (Page) and Walter Gunsaulies. Her father died early in childhood and she was raised by her mother and step father (Floyd Berry). She is survived by her husband (Dr. Robert Woodruff), a daughter (Cheri Taylor), a son (Kris Woodruff), 5 grandchildren (Charlotte, Crystal, Caitlin, Kali, Ben), and 2 great grand children (Ella & Eli), along with a sister (June Jackson) and a brother (Nelson Gunsaulies) and numerous nieces and nephews.
With her family she lived in Gainesville since 1958. She attended Westville (Ohio) High School, was a cheerleader, and graduated as salutatorian of her class in 1952. She attended Bliss Business College in Columbus Ohio from 1952-54. She married her husband of 59 years on June 27, 1954, in Westville, Ohio.
Her husband graduated from Ohio State University on the day after their first child (Cheri) was born [what a wonderful graduation present!]. Shortly after a year in graduate school he was employed by the Kentucky State Health Department, and they moved to Louisville, KY, where they lived for a year.
In 1958 Bob was employed by the Florida State Plant Board (now Division of Plant Industry) in Gainesville, and Evelyn worked as a secretary at the Crom Corporation. Later she was hired by the UF Athletic Association, from which she retired on disability after 20 years. She was secretary for Law Prof. Mandell Glicksberg, faculty Chairman for Athletics. Her job involved signing most of the UF athletes to their scholarships and legal documents.
Bob embarked on a PhD program in 1963, obtaining the degree in 1967. Evelyn was extremely supportive during that time and typed his dissertation (660 pages) twice. Kris saw her typing and asked: “Mom, why is Dad getting the degree, cause you did all the work.” She delighted in telling that story. The University of Florida Womens Club provided a certificate and conferred a PhT ( “Pushing Hubby Through”), for which she was equally proud.
In 1964, during Bob’s graduate studies, he was awarded a fellowship to attend the initial session of the Organization for Tropical Studies in San Jose, Costa Rica. This trip, driving a home-made camper, with 2 kids, and 4400 miles, was the most memorable of our lives. Evelyn remembered it less fondly than the others, because she got measels in Veracruz, dealt with a 4 & 8 year old while Bob was in the field, in a foreign country where she did not speak the language.
After the children left home she was looking for an activity to occupy her time. She was an enthusiastic reader, especially Danielle Steele (for which she had all), and romance novels. Her best friend and secretary at the law school (Laurie Larson) introduced her to cross-stitch, where she found her passion, producing detailed and gorgeous “paintings”. After a stroke later, she became legally blind and no longer could see sufficiently to continue. She was able to continue reading with “tunnel vision”.
Family was really her life and hobby. She was a member of the UF Agricultural Women’s Club (avidly playing bridge at one time), Methodist Church Fellowship, and a city bowling league (bowling regularly in the 200’s). Her numerous unsuccessful back surgeries ended her bowling career and created a long, painful, and suffering life. She tried rehab (until it became impossible) at “Fit for Life”, where she met many good friends, including Eugenia Sokal, with whom she had a special bond.
During the past 15 years she was in continuous pain, but never complained or became despondent. She lived through her kids, grand kids, and the most precious great grandkids ever. She had a T-shirt that said: “If I had known Grandkids were so much fun, I would have had them first!” She was mild mannered, passive, and always had a cheerful attitude. She graciously tolerated her wandering entomologist husband, but did not share his passion for travel to remote collecting sites.
Because she worked for the UF Athletic Association, she became an avid Gator fan and had season tickets for football games. Although her surgeries prohibited attendance later, she never lost her Gator enthusiasm. “Once a Gator, always a Gator”!
Her closest lifelong friend was Bob’s sister Pat. Bob’s parents bought Evelyn’s Mother’s house when she was 5 years old, but they lived next door for much of their childhood. That bond has persisted, even though living geographically far apart most of adult life. However, when Bob went to the famous rock shows in Quartzsite, Arizona, the 2 girls went to Las Vegas to gamble; it was a special treat that they enjoyed together. Pat will be here for the Memorial Tribute.
She died peacefully and mercifully at the E.T. York Haven Hospice Center. We are so grateful and lucky to have such a marvelous facility in North Florida, with great compassionate, friendly, and helpful staff. I can think of no finer facility in which to spend the end of days, whether as a patient or loved one visiting.
She will be cremated at the Forest Meadows Crematory, and her ashes will be distributed in the ocean at Crescent Beach, her favorite place. Before development it was a pristine beach and the family went there every weekend possible. In lieu of flowers we suggest a donation to the E.T. York Haven Hospice or to Wilmot Gardens (instructions on their websites).
A Memorial tribute to celebrate Evelyn’s life will be held on Aug. 10 (Saturday) from 1 to 5 p.m. at Wilmot Gardens on the UF campus (corner of Gale Lemerand drive and Mowry Drive, just off Archer Rd.; map attached). Parking is plentiful on the hill above the Gardens, since it is on a non-work day. It will be a non-structured, informal get together for the friends and family of a beloved Mother, Grand Mother, Great Grand Mother and devoted wife! Food will be served, and kitchen facilities are available. Anyone wishing to bring a covered dish would find a hearty group and our thanks.
Her 5 year old Great Granddaughter, Ella, sums up our sentiments in her Question: “Do you get to do whatever you want when you die?” Her Mother said “probably and if Nana could do what she wants, she would go bowling and we will look at Nana’a trophies next time.” A short time later her Mother said “what would you do if you could do anything you wanted?” Ella said “Go bowling with Nana.”
Grief is never easy but must be experienced to ease the hurt over time. Our concept of Evelyn’s wonderful life is summed up as follows:
We can shed tears after she has gone, but more significantly, we can smile because she lived. We are excited to learn that all members of our immediate family will be here for the Memorial Service to share in our celebration of her life.