Portraits of Peace House History: Evelyn Richards

Evelyn Richards Founding Member of Domestic Peace Task Force (1922-2017)
Evelyn Richards Founding Member of Domestic Peace Task Force (1922-2017)

This year marks 25 years of Peace House serving survivors of family violence and abuse in Summit and Wasatch counties through shelter, support services, education and outreach. As part of our 25th Anniversary Year, 
each month we are spotlighting some of the many individuals who have shaped Peace House history. Throughout the year, we will be honoring and commemorating all those who have supported the life-saving and life-changing work that Peace House has offered our community over the past 25 years.

[The following blog post features a description of a domestic violence incident.]

Father Carley describes his late friend Evelyn Richards as “quiet and unobtrusive … kind hearted and dedicated to the causes she believed in. She was an activist”. Father Carley and Evelyn became close friends when she moved with her husband Ted to Park City in 1977 and began attending mass every morning at St. Mary’s in Old Town. Maria Booth, a fellow parishioner at St. Mary’s and a founding member of the Domestic Peace Task Force (DPTF), remembers Evelyn in the same light, as “salt of the earth [with] such strong beliefs … she walked her talk”.

Evelyn became involved in supporting women affected by domestic violence in Park City early on. Her personal introduction may have been through the work of her daughter-in-law, Becky Richards, who was employed as a nurse in Summit County’s Kamas clinic from 1985-1987. Occasionally the local clinics would receive and serve women and children affected by abuse at home. At the time, the closest resource for victims of domestic violence specifically was located in Salt Lake City, where the YWCA provided shelter and support services. To better address domestic violence locally, a focus group was organized by the county and Becky attended these “brainstorming meetings” in the capacity of county nurse. The group remained a think tank, but it did inspire Becky to organize Park City’s first Candlelight Vigil in October 1987, to raise awareness and honor victims of domestic violence. [1] Evelyn participated and lent her full support.

As Becky was organizing the first Candlelight Vigil, Evelyn was providing support to victims by opening her own home to survivors needing safety. Evelyn committed to this work quietly, unbeknownst to even close friends and family. Evelyn’s name and phone number were at the top of a handwritten, unofficial list of victim advocate contacts that Park City Police Officer Mary Ford was given in the mid 1980s. One evening while out on patrol, Mary responded to a domestic violence call. Mary notes that “these were the scariest calls we would receive”. When she arrived at the location of the call, Mary was forced to break into the apartment where a woman and her children had been locked in from the outside. The mother of four had been badly beaten by her boyfriend and was trapped in the home with her children. Mary immediately called YWCA in Salt Lake City to check if there was room for the family but the shelter was full. Mary recalled the slip of paper she had recently received with the names of several women on it. She called the number at the top of the list, and Evelyn Richards answered the phone. Mary described the situation and Evelyn’s response was short: “Bring them here”. Mary remembers, “Evelyn was a woman of few words. She took them in and bought them food and diapers and everything that was needed”, in order to help the family transition somewhere safer. When asked if she ever called any of the other names on her list of safe houses, Mary simply responded, “I never did, Evelyn always answered the call”.

Following the domestic murder of Nadalee Noble in 1990, Linda Hathaway and Jean Paulson opened their social ministry group at the Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church to the community (Portraits of Peace House History: Jean Paulson and Linda Hathaway). The group was meeting at St. Mary’s, where the Lutheran congregation gathered at the time. Linda Hathaway and Jean Paulson organized the group to learn more about domestic violence in order to better serve community members enduring abuse. Evelyn joined the group and brought her experience and passion to the committee. In 1992, the committee officially became known as the Domestic Peace Task Force (DPTF), and later adopted the name of the shelter, Peace House. Evelyn’s name was included in the Articles of Incorporation.

As the Domestic Peace Task Force evolved, Evelyn became engaged at every level, from carrying the pager that would notify members of the DPTF that a victim advocate was needed, to lobbying for legislation in support of victims of domestic violence. The founder of the Domestic Peace Task Force, Linda Hathaway, remembers Evelyn as “a well spoken, politically astute and involved woman.” These character traits also contributed to Evelyn becoming the President of the Women’s League of Voters. [2]

“Evelyn just got stuff done, no fuss,” remembers Phyllis Anderson, another committed member of the Domestic Peace Task Force. Evelyn not only faithfully supported survivors of domestic violence, but also chaired Sub For Santa for 17 years, providing Christmas celebrations for families needing support during the holidays. [3] Evelyn was voted Citizen of the Year by the Park City Rotary Club in 1993 and served as the Grand Marshal of the Miners Day parade that year. Evelyn was a motivated activist and her actions spoke louder than her words. Evelyn passed away on August 27, 2017, surrounded by her family. Her legacy lives on in Park City and in the lives of those she served.

Researched and written by Karen Marriott
Edited by Lisa Jackson
Photos provided by the Richards family

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St. Marys Catholic Church, Evelyn Richards, Evelyn Richards Grand Marshall Miners Day Parade 1993, Evelyn Richards Sorting Sub for Santa Donations

1*Candlelight Vigil
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2*Evelyn Richard’s Obituary
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3*Sub For Santa
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