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Celebration of Life
Obituary of Evelyn Pratt
Evelyn Frances Norell was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania on April 19th, 1928, to Dorothy and Michael Norell, and died in Portland Oregon on March 23rd, 2023.
Evie grew up an only child on the east coast during the Great Depression; her parents were musicians and athletes, and the scarcity and hardships of Evie’s childhood were tempered by favorite activities like ice skating, swimming, and playing piano.
Evie’s family moved to Denver when she was a teenager. She thrived while attending the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she studied paleontology, zoology, and French, and wrote beautifully about the time she was spending in the Colorado Rockies. She became involved in the college Hiking Club, and was known there for her high spirits and many hijinks. She also instigated a variety of outdoor escapades with her two best pals, Ann Konzen and Norma Oxley, including an infamous backpacking trip along the Continental Divide; these friends stayed close for the rest of their lives.
After college, Evie’s spirit of adventure led her into a work study program in Yugoslavia, where she helped to rebuild railroads destroyed during WWII. After returning to the states, she moved to Seattle for a graduate program, but her plans changed when she met a handsome young man whose sense of humor and mischief-making clicked with hers; Evie married Ralph Pratt on March 19,1953.
Evie and Ralph raised three children in Seattle and Portland, spending many weekends hiking, camping, skiing, rock climbing, and fossil hunting. They were very involved with West Hills Unitarian Fellowship and Shoreline Unitarian Church, leading hikes after church, folk dancing, organizing potlucks, and making many long term friends.
Evie volunteered and worked with the zoos in both cities, teaching classes for people of all ages and participating in programs studying chimp behavior and watching over pregnant polar bears. Later she taught natural sciences at Oregon Episcopal School for ten years, and loved her time doing this;.she was in her element nurturing enthusiasm among middle school kids for the rocks, plants and animals that fascinated her.
Evie and Ralph’s oldest child, Bruce Pratt, shared his mother’s passion for the mountains and in adulthood become an alpine guide. In 1985 the family was devastated when he died leading a climb up Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina. Evie and Ralph became active volunteers at the Dougy Center for grieving children and families, which helped them survive Bruce’s loss.
After leaving Oregon Episcopal School, Evie began hiking regularly with friends in a group called the Mothertrekkers. They explored both sides of the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood wilderness and the coast range from Spring through Fall, with Evie documenting how many species of flowers they saw every year when they hiked Dog Mountain in May.
When Ralph retired, the couple became more active than ever: folk dancing at Reed college, studying Spanish, traveling to Europe, Mexico, and Hawaii, and, when their grandchildren came along, reveling in grand parenting. Evie was wonderful with her grandchildren and other young family members, accompanying them on excursions to museums, parks and into nature, while teaching them about the things they saw together.
In 2004, Evie and Ralph moved to Terwilliger Plaza in Portland, where they made many new friends. Evie led popular tours to nearby sites of geological interest in the city, mountains and on the coast. She continued to hike and cross country ski with friends, and became very involved with the Geological Society of Oregon, leading trips for them as well, and serving as president for a term.
After Ralph’s stroke in 2007, Evie dedicated herself to his rehabilitation and care, making his life as adventurous, humorous and fun as she could for eight more years, while engaging in satisfying acts of minor rebellion whenever possible. She continued to hike and dance until almost ninety.
Evie developed dementia in her later years, but was blessed with a form of it that kept her fairly happy and engaged, still fascinated by the world around her. She spent three summers rambling through the prairies of Wisconsin with Clare and Jeffrey, received visits from grandchildren, and on her 87th birthday climbed Beacon Rock in the Columbia Gorge with her daughter Melanie, thoroughly enjoying the accolades of strangers.
In her final years Evie was accompanied and cared for by Melanie and Malcolm, family friend Heather Pinney, and by many deeply important, loving, kind caregivers at Terwilliger Plaza, who went on outdoor adventures with her, sang with her, played late-night games together, and expressed appreciation for her age-mellowed good humor.
Evie passed very peacefully on Thursday March 23rd 2023, in the company and the hearts of her family and friends. We love her and miss her, and are glad that she had so much fun in her life.
She survived the loss of her son Bruce Pratt and husband Ralph Pratt, and is in turn survived by daughters Melanie Pratt and Clare Norelle, sons in law Malcolm Johnson and Jeffrey Lewis, adult grandchildren Mischa, Imani, and Sasha Lewis-Norelle, and other well-loved family members and friends.
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