April 19, 1928 - December 3, 2020
The name Evelyn is of Hebrew origin and means "life". If we asked each of you who knew our Mother to describe her essence in a few sentences, it’s highly probable that you’d use the word “life” in your descriptions, e.g., full of life, life-giving, lifesaving, and what we heard often, “friend for life. “ She met her husband, Hascall Muntz, who preceded her in death, at our Aunt Maurine’s wedding to Robert Muntz, Hascall’s younger brother. Mom was part of Aunt Maurine’s wedding party and Dad was the Best Man. It was true love and life at first sight – a romance that gave life to 5 children who in turn gave her 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. All of it was B’shert, the Hebrew for “meant to be.” Mom was born on April 19, 1928 in Greenwood, Mississippi to Polish immigrants Paul and Mildred Bergson, their 2nd child. Milton was her older brother who has preceded her in death. Paul was a cotton broker whose business was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1927. Unable to care for both of their children, Paul and Mildred made the heart-wrenching decision to give Evelyn to her childless aunt and uncle, Sara and Benjamin Gertz, who lived in Tyler at the time. She was a gift of life to them. The Gertz family moved to Kilgore on the 2nd day of the oil boom in 1930. She grew up there, attended Kilgore Junior College for a year where she was a proud Rangerette before she moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas. Her gratitude and appreciation for life and living was inspired by her 2 fathers, Paul and Ben who remained great friends, nature and nurture coming together. A week before her wedding, Mom asked Ben to officially adopt her so that he could walk her down the aisle as her father of record and gave her hand in marriage to Hascall. All parties agreed. Even as a child, Mom worked at activities aimed at giving to the community. Her track record of service and giving continued at UT-Austin where she participated in sorority life not only focused on social activities and community causes. She graduated with a degree in Social Work – focused on doing good. Not surprisingly, in her senior year, she was elected President of the Pan-Hellenic Society for all of UT. She was great at getting diverse groups of people to work together toward a common purpose. Her diplomacy skills early in life certainly came in handy later with her husband and 5 children. Though raised in rural Texas, Mom had a broad world view, comfortable in any setting, comfortable with any person. She had an expansive capacity for empathy and her ready smile could fill anyone’s heart with joy. Her empathy, that ability to feel what others are feeling, and sense of gratitude were so strong that even the slightest expression of kindness (or sadness) that she witnessed brought tears to her eyes. We always made sure to have plenty of Kleenex on hand at every social gathering and particularly during the winter holidays when TV commercials would inevitably require one of us kids to run to the kitchen to grab her a tissue. Treating everyone with equal respect and kindness were qualities that defined our Mother. She wasn’t just interesting to people – she was interested in people and her interest was genuine. If you met Evelyn, she remembered you and you probably remembered her. When my wife went to get a passport in Dallas, the person helping her looked at the name Muntz and said, “Do you know an Evelyn Muntz?” and then raved about her acts of kindness. In Henderson, TX when I stepped up to get tickets at the box office at a community theater production starring one of her granddaughters, someone in line grabbed my arm and said, “Are you Evelyn Muntz’ son?” I beamed with pride as she shared stories about anonymous acts of kindness that were never shared with her family. That was a common experience for all of us children, something we really enjoyed. We could always count on Mom to do the right thing and, optimistically (with fingers crossed) she expected us to do the same. She was a champion for social justice as was her husband. Black lives mattered to them both, long before the term was coined. Mom insisted that everyone be treated equally and wouldn’t tolerate words or language that was disrespectful or cruel. Her courage allowed her to speak up and speak out. We were proud to have been raised by someone with a strong commitment to social justice. Perhaps that was born out of her deep and abiding faith in humanity – her belief and attention to the good in people. Unlike her own parents, she was raised in a country where she could practice her Jewish faith. She was involved in many activities at Temple Beth-El in Tyler. Her faith inspired and sustained her. Her interest in culture of all types - art, music, dance, theater, poetry – led her to seek out positions on committees and boards where she could contribute her time and energy to many organizations that honored and promoted those disciplines. She lectured about Robert Frost, filled her home to overflowing with books, magazines, and playbills. Always learning and teaching, Mom was a voracious reader, something she learned from her mother Sara. She encouraged her friends to read, hosting book clubs in our home and attending them in her friends’ homes. Naturally, she loved the Carnegie Library in Tyler. Later in life she returned to college and earned a Master of Library Sciences. When we were children, Mom got very involved with our schools. She was a room mother. She got involved in PTA as a member and leader. She attended school board meetings. Her most obvious contributions to education were her good works on behalf of the University of Tyler where she worked tirelessly to make UT-Tyler an international success. More about that later. Underneath that beautiful exterior was incredible strength, grace, and wisdom. She wasn’t just our father’s biggest fan and supporter – she was his partner, a source of strength for him and for us. Married at 21, she first became a mother at age 22 to David. Over the next 9 years, Jimmy, Julie, and Ellen followed. And much to everyone’s surprise including hers, 19 years after the first child, Will made an appearance. Mom was 40 at the time. When she was being rolled into the delivery room, her obstetrician called her Sarah – a joking reference to the biblical Abraham’s wife who became a first-time mother at age 90. She laughed about that for years. Will was a great addition to all our lives. Mom’s friends will attest to the fact that she was a spectacularly good friend – a friend for life who would do whatever was necessary to help, encourage, coach, mentor, educate, entertain, console, and amuse – whatever was appropriate for the occasion. She had a great sense of humor and she often burst forth with laughter. She was a great audience. Her laughter made all of those in her presence smile and laugh along with her. She was a bright spirit. Though she was a great friend, the role she enjoyed the most and the one for which her children are most grateful is that of Mother. We hit the jackpot with Hascall and Evelyn. The only person whose gratitude exceeded ours was hers. Throughout our lives, there was never any doubt that she loved us, loved being our Mother – even when we weren’t as deserving as we should be. She made a lot of trips to the traffic court. We blamed that on her aggressive driving. We all enjoyed the fact that Mom’s love for us increased over time. And as our families expanded by love and marriage, her enjoyment of life soared. She was life and she loved life. Love generated more love. The older we all got, the greater her joy when we gathered together. And, of course, at those family events, there was always a speech or toast, something she learned from her Mother, usually followed with tears from us all. Sadly, Mom was widowed when Will was just 12 years old. Her response was typical Evelyn. Rather than stretch out the grieving process, Mom stepped into the dual role of Mother and Father to Will. She was determined to give Will “not a good but a great life” – his words. Without hesitation, she decided for financial reasons to enter the work force at age 52. She was fortunate to connect with Dr. Hamm at UT-Tyler. Her hired her into the development department. Her keen understanding of the human capacity for giving and her track record at giving made her an ideal fundraiser. Her enthusiasm for the University was infectious in the right way. She conveyed that enthusiasm to the donors, and they loved her for allowing them the opportunity to make their good fortune work for the community at large. Her track record in fundraising would be hard to beat. She brought both money and international talent to UT-Tyler. Our home was filled with pictures of celebrities she helped convince to lecture or perform in UT-Tyler’s Cowan Center, just one of the buildings she helped fund. There are several tributes to her efforts on that campus. Mom excelled in the role of a single, widowed mother working at her first and final job while raising a child who was to become a fine young man – life wasn’t always easy, but the results were spectacular. We know the world is a little less bright today from her death but remember how much light she added to the world during her life through all of us she touched. Evelyn’s life and light continues in each one of us who has been touched by her goodness. When we think about that, we have to smile and say thank you to God for bringing her life and light into our world. Long live Evelyn Gertz Muntz. A private family service for Evelyn Muntz, 92, of Tyler, will be held on Sunday, December 6. Due to COVID concerns, friends are invited to attend via livestream by registering at OurKaddish.com. If desired, memorials may be made to Temple Beth-El, 1010 Charleston Dr., Tyler, Texas 75703 or the charity of your choice. She was a supporter of many charitable causes.
The name Evelyn is of Hebrew origin and means "life". If we asked each of you who knew our Mother to describe her essence in a few sentences, it’s highly probable that you’d use the word “life” in your descriptions,... View Obituary & Service Information
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