We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Rose City Cemetery & Funeral Home
Dr. Evelyn M. Strange (née Diamant), pediatric dentist, passed away on Saturday, May 14, a few weeks before her 95th birthday, at Holladay Park Plaza in Portland, Oregon. She led a truly spectacular life and leaves behind a void we cannot possibly fill. She was ready to go, and went quite peacefully, which is as much as we could possibly hope.
Evelyn devoted her professional life to the advancement of individual and community health through a career that spanned teaching, civic service and clinical practice. She began teaching at the University of Oregon Dental School (now OHSU) in 1956. Her home base was the Department of Pediatric Dentistry where she trained scores of dentists in patient-centered practices over the course of more than 40 years. Beginning in the 1970s, Evelyn combined her talents with those of her psychologist husband, Frank, who also taught at OHSU. Together they taught, published and lectured across Europe on behavioral issues relevant to dentistry and behavioral science, including stress management for practitioners and preventative dentistry for health associations and patients.
Evelyn was particularly proud of her work in preventative dentistry and in bringing women into the field. She was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Pedodontics and the American College of Dentists, and as Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. She served as President of the Oregon Academy of Pedodontics, the Oregon Society of Dentistry for Children, and the Oregon Unit of the American College of Dentists. She served in many leadership capacities for the Association of American Women Dentists, including Chair of International Relations.
Throughout her career, Evelyn worked and volunteered in Portland schools and on advisory boards and clinics promoting community dental health. Guided by her own experience as a refugee, the doors of her private practice were open to patients unable to pay their full fees.
The triplet daughter of Rudolph Diamant, physician and dentist, and Charlotte (née Ehrenfest), musician and dental hygienist, Evelyn was born in Vienna, Austria. The granddaughter of a Rabbi, she and her family fled Vienna for France in late 1938, soon after her father had been jailed, and eventually released, by the Nazis. Over the next two years, Evelyn and her sisters Amelie and Marianne attended five different schools in five different cities, with all their classes taught in French. When they reached Marseilles in late 1940, they were fortunate to meet Martha Sharp, of the Unitarian Rescue Committee, who secured passage from Portugal to New York aboard the U.S.S. Excambion. Once in the U.S., the girls attended boarding school in New Jersey -- taught in English, their third language -- as they awaited their parents, who were stranded in Portugal. Once they arrived, the family set out for Portland, where the girls’ uncle had recently emigrated and paved the way for them.
Evelyn and family then took residence in Northeast Portland, where she and her sisters attended Grant High School from 1941 through 1944. It was earlier that year that Evelyn began writing letters to soldiers, including an 18-year-old who lived across the street on N.E. Schuyler. Only on return from the war did Frank learn which of the “Diamant triplets” was “doing her patriotic duty” by corresponding with the troops. Married in 1948, the two went on to share a 61-year adventure.
Upon graduation from high school, Evelyn spent two years at the University of Oregon, on an art scholarship, then applied to, and was accepted by the University of Oregon Dental School, where she was the only woman in a class of nearly 50. After she received her DMD, Evelyn and Frank spent a year at Penn State, where she studied dental health and nutrition in Amish communities. They then moved to St. Louis, where she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in pedodontics while he completed his Ph.D in psychology, both at Washington University.
Few who worked with Evelyn could match her boundless energy. In the years between 1955 and 1959 she gave birth to four children and she and her husband started a “spare time” pursuit of renovating homes from the Oregon Coast to Mt. Hood and beyond. A family “vacation” often combined a swim in the ocean or a ski down the slopes with a checklist of “rejuvenation projects.” It came as no surprise that, not long after retirement from dentistry in 1997, she challenged the Oregon real estate exam and went to work -- “part-time” and alongside her son, Bill -- with Broker and Oregon Symphony Cellist, David Socolofsky.
Although Evelyn thrived on work, she loved nothing more than spending time with her children and extended family, for whom she prepared weekly family dinners, and with whom she travelled near and far. Over the years, she also nourished close, life-long friendships and readily struck up new ones well into her 90s. Her cat, Chou-Chou, brought her countless moments of joy. Though trained as a dentist, she was, in her heart of hearts, an artist, from her grade-school days as a dancer in the Vienna Opera, to her life-long dabbling with watercolors and pastels, her long-time support of the Oregon Opera and Symphony, and her great satisfaction in renovating old homes.
Although Evelyn’s war-time conversion to Catholicism came more from necessity than choice, she married a Catholic, came to accept the Church’s tenets about the afterlife, and drew great comfort from the power of prayer. Although she lost nine aunts and uncles to the Holocaust, she spent very little time looking back. She was fearless and wise, generous, caring and resolute. She was raised in a traditional European household, but readily adapted to a world that changed beneath her feet. She promoted change in her profession and embraced resilience as a principle mandate of life.
Evelyn came to love the country that took her in as a teen, even as she became increasingly wary of its recent direction. She felt particularly fortunate to have landed here in the Pacific Northwest, where Mt. Hood and its wildflowers recalled the Alps and Edelweiss of her youth, and where the Coast reminded her of the Italian beaches where her family would summer. She came to be a part of the country she so adored. Even as we mourn her loss, her enduring presence brings enormous joy as we celebrate a life well-lived.
Evelyn Strange is survived by her children, William (Barbara Lee), Jeffrey (Mary Vance), Thomas (Dawn Furstenberg), and Linda. She adored her grandchildren, Andrea Bischoff (Joseph), Stephanie MacDonald, Meredith Morrell and Charlotte Strange, and her great grandchildren, Jocelyn MacDonald, Jacob Bischoff, and Delilah Bischoff. She cherished her surviving sister, Amelie Diamant Holmstrom. She was predeceased by her husband Frank, in 2009, and by her sister Marianne Sheckler-Feder, in 2014. Evelyn will be lovingly remembered by cousins, nephews, nieces and friends both here and abroad.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Rose City Cemetery on Saturday June 11 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM. Private Interment.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be sent in honor of Dr. Evelyn M. Strange to Medical Teams International or the Portland Youth Philharmonic.
P.O. Box 4288
Portland, OR 97208
9320 SW Barbur Blvd., Suite 140
Portland, OR 97219