Evelyn J. Fulton, Washington, died July 2, 2021, at the Republic County Hospital in Belleville, KS. Visitation will be held Wednesday, July 7, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at Ward Funeral Home in Washington. A vigil service will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 7, at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Washington. A funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Thursday, July 8, at St. Augustine Catholic Church, Washington. Burial will be in the Washington City Cemetery. A memorial fund is established to the Washington County Hospital. Contributions may be sent in care of Ward Funeral Home (Notes, as compiled by Evelyn’s son) Evelyn June was born December 10, 1933, the first bundle of joy for her parents, Frank & Mary Turinisky of Morrowville, KS. Apparently, her birth was not without complications. Hers was a forceps delivery. Apparently, if you got Evelyn really angry, her face would turn tomato red, the outline of the delivery forceps could be seen. I cannot confirm this, being her only perfect child, her only angel. Evelyn was a child of the straining days of the Depression, riding her horse to a rural school and helping her parents with the chores on their small Kansas farm. Their little family subsisted on growing food for themselves and, with some good luck, something to sell. It was a world of gathering eggs, milking cows, picking mulberries, peaches, and strawberries or whatever there was to be had when it was in season, and making the best of it. Like others of her generation, if her childhood was sad or hard or frustrating, she never spoke as such in the memories she shared. She would share with you though, if you knew her all her life, or if you had only recently met, of some of her most vivid childhood memories. She would speak of her first hearing the news that the USA had enter WWII. The story goes that the children were relegated to sitting outside on the front porch of her house, while nervous adults had crowded into their home’s small living room, as her parents had the only battery radio for miles around. One of the boys sitting on the porch with her, said that the “Germans were going to kill President Roosevelt”, which filled her full of anger and fright at the same time. In the world she imagined she lived in; she couldn’t believe that people were going to kill each other. She’d later write letters to her male relatives while they were in the service of their country. Or the tale of her and her sister, both frightened, as they watched a tornado sweep up her families cattle. Their mother sick in bed, her crying little sister took shelter under the kitchen table, while Evelyn attempted to keep the front door from flying open. Evelyn graduated from Morrowville High School in 1951. Go Bulldogs! A better than average student, and apparently a pretty good sax player. I believe that her joy of people and her compulsion to help others, and taking her inspiration from an older aunt, she formulated a plan to attend nursing school. An anxious mother and a cautious, reflective father put her on the train to Mary Mount College, Salina KS. She graduated in mid-50’s, with a degree in nursing. She liked to tell a story about her college days, where a fellow African American student was forced to sit at the back of a public transit bus, and when she and other fellow nursing students sat with her, got in trouble with the local police. Later, while being held at the police station, her teacher and nun, came and chastised the officer for his holding them. While working at a Salina hospital, an evening outing set up by a friend of Evelyn’s arranged a get together with her boyfriend and his friend stationed at the nearby Air Force base. She described the young airman as a polite, quiet, shy soul. At the end of the evening, he said he thought he’d liked to come visit her again, if that was alright with her. She said, “yes, I think it would be” was her response. It was in this meeting that she met her future husband, Simon Fulton. Simon was a young Air Force serviceman, an aircraft mechanic, stationed at the Smokey Hills AFB in Salina. On their first date together, he surprised her when he showed up on a Harley motorcycle. Somehow, he had come up with a way to shelter her legs from the hot exhaust. It’s unclear how many dates they went on, riding on that motorcycle, but eventually Evelyn shared with him the fact that she actually had a car, that she didn’t often drive, because the public bus could drop her off at the very front door of hospital where she worked. On May 14, 1955, in the witness of friends and family, Simon Solomon and Evelyn June were married. Evelyn had to try to convince a reluctant mother. Eventually, Evelyn’s father Frank, who couldn’t see why two people who loved each other shouldn’t be married, swayed her opinion. Or maybe he just put his foot down… At the time, Simon was so young that he had to have his parents (and the Air Force’s) permission to marry. Even on the evening before their wedding, Simon had to go back to the base, because those were the rules that single men had to follow. Much like the times we find ourselves in, the young nurse Evelyn found herself facing a world of uncertainty in the 1950’s. The decade found a nation with war fresh in its mind facing a new enemy… rising polio infections. Facing potential personal infection from at that time a mysterious, debilitating, and sometimes deadly virus, she found herself on the front line, working at a hospital in Wichita. She’d talk of administering to kids in iron lungs or working with them in pools to move their joints to maintain mobility. She’d say that one day they showed up with shots for her and the other nurses, a vaccine. There was no debate about whether they could opt out; it was different time. She also noted that some nurses died from their exposure to the virus. She spent a large part of her nursing career working at the Washington County Hospital. If you lived in Washington in 60’s thru the 80’s, and you, or a family member, everyone you cared to you know, or just that guy you saw in the produce isle at the grocery store, had need of medical care, chances are you were wheeled, prepped, cleaned, swabbed, stitched, checked, medicated, or generally nursed back to health with Evelyn’s help. Evelyn would often come home, share about her day, and engage you in her own version of the Kevin Bacon game… which would go something like this. “That Gary Smith guy came in today to the hospital get his leg stitched up. He had an accident while working on his car…. you know Gary, right? John and Mary’s boy. He was like four years older than your sister. They used to live there north of school, by the Nelson’s, on the Green’s old place. His dad used to work for the city... oh, you know him.” She’d make this long mental connective chain to someone, to another someone, to another someone… till she helped you make the connection for yourself. Sometimes it helped, sometimes it didn’t. How it did always work though was to show how deep and immense her connection was to the community she worked in. She touched everyone’s lives, whether they were conscious of it or not. Many of you may remember Evelyn & Simon, six kids in tow, living in the large two-story house on the southeast edge of town. Six kids; it was different world then. Apparently though, to make ends meet in the first year upon moving in, they took on borders, who lived on the second floor. Sometimes the needs of family meant working apart from each other. From there, the two of them fashioned a life for themselves. While Evelyn worked as a nurse for the Washington County Hospital, she was one of the few RN’s working at the hospital, and that meant middle-of-the-night emergency calls for her to head to the hospital. Or it meant long hours called away from her family. Raising six kids is not the type of self-inflicted torture you generally see attempted by families these days. Evelyn balanced the needs of a family with the necessity of a paycheck. Oftentimes, she was doing it as a single parent, while her husband was working somewhere outside of Washington area. In the span of about 12 years, they welcomed a new life into the mix about every other year. That’s a lot of bottles, diapers, shoes, coats, lunches, and eventually vehicles to find and maintain. It was always an imperfect mix of chaos, tantrums, endless laundry, fights, missed meals, large heating bills, missing homework, missed events, and generally frustrating shared moments… and did I mention fights? Overall though, enough things went right enough, enough love was shared, for six mostly normal kids to grow into mostly functional adults. When her kids were grown, her and Simon eventually moved back to the small house where they first lived in Washington, where earlier her parents lived, a block & a half from their prior home. She went to work for the Marcon Pie Company, yes to make pies, but probably, mostly, to be among people and their conversations. She enjoyed a good conversation, never turned away from a good debate, and always liked to help you connect so-and-so with so-and-so. She’s survived by her younger sister Barbara, six children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, close friends… But she’s truly survived by the communities she lived in, where she helped birth their children, heal their sick, mend their broken, and cry alongside their grieving. She will be missed. These are my mom’s tales. My mom’s stories. What she chose to share when people were sitting around in words and laughs. They are as best as she could recall them, as best as we can recall them. Whether these are facts, or just what she chose to remember from a long life, or what she wished to remember, I’m not certain. Sometimes, the stories seemed to change a bit, with time. I’m not sure any of us knows what is real or fully truthful, and time tends to only blur the distinctions. Sometimes, the realness of things is too strong, or painful, still, to tell or to come to grips with. And at our end, it probably doesn’t matter. What people remember is not the details of our story, but that we chose to tell our story. That we chose to share our story. I think if one’s life has a theme, Evelyn’s theme would have been "caregiver”. She gave to her community, to friends, to her family, to her husband. She cared about all of us, who we were, where we were going, what we were doing, and beyond these things how were we? At her core, she didn’t choose to be a caregiver… she had to be a caregiver. The need lived in her, love made her act upon that need, and she left this world better for it.
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