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Evelyn H. Zember died peacefully at St. Joseph Seniors Residence, Woodbridge on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. She was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1921 and lived most of her life in Watchung and Iselin, New Jersey. She was predeceased by her loving husband, Frank, in 2008. Evelyn is survived by many dear nieces, nephews, extended Vietnamese family, loving friends and her husband’s family.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, April 2, at the Gosselin Funeral Home, 660 New Dover Road, Edison, New Jersey. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3, in St. Cecelia Church, Iselin, followed by entombment at Resurrection Cemetery, Piscataway.
Evelyn Zember was born in 1921 in Providence, Rhode Island to Nellis Slavin Hawksley and Harry Hawksley. Nellis was an orphan and had been left at an orphanage with a note “mother deaf mute, father unknown.” Nellis died ten days after Evelyn was born. Harry Hawksley later remarried and had a son, Robert Hawksley, and a daughter, Ruth Hawksley Walters, with his second wife. Robert and Ruth pre-deceased Evelyn.
In 1962, as a volunteer at the Holy Rosary Mission in Dillingham, Alaska, Evelyn taught third, fourth and fifth grade at the Mission school and was housemother to ten Eskimo boys.
In 1981, Evelyn was honored as the “Watchung Person of the Year” by the Watchung Optimist Club in recognition of her various charitable works. She was also presented with a certificate of appreciation by the U.S. Catholic Conference in Washington, D.C. for her aid in resettling Vietnamese refugees after the Vietnam War ended in 1975.
Prior to her retirement in 1999, Evelyn was the receptionist and “voice” of the Diocese of Metuchen for many years. She was very active throughout her life in humanitarian and volunteer efforts. She taught English as a second language for Literacy Volunteers of America, volunteered at J.F. Kennedy Hospital and also in the hospice program. She served for many years as a Eucharistic Minister at St. Cecelia Church, Iselin.
Evelyn was embraced by her husband’s family, respected and catered to by her Vietnamese family, her relatives and friends. A constant source of comfort was her granddaughter, Hanh Tran, who kept her supplied and pampered with everything from snacks, wine and roses to an up-to-date TV, lunches out and a cell phone. Evelyn was surrounded by many very good friends until the end.
In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made in Evelyn’s name to the St. Joseph Seniors Residence, 3 St. Joseph Terrace, Woodbridge, NJ 07095, or the charity of one’s choice. Her family and friends are very grateful for the exceptional love and care she received from Sister Lucy and all the Sisters and staff at St. Joseph’s Residence.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Gosselin Funeral Home, 660 New Dover Road, Edison, NJ, 732-381-5858, www.gosselinfuneralhome.com.