Life Story: Evelyn Gerda Fischer Strum, 89; Supporter Of Arts

Evelyn Gerda Fischer Strum passed away on February 21 after a long, happy life filled with family and friends.

She was born in New York City on October 22, 1932 to Anna and Gustav Fischer. She was a beloved wife to Herbert and devoted mother to her four children, Annalise, Suzanne, Claudia and Donald. 

Evelyn was a graduate of Julia Richmond High School in Manhattan and Brooklyn College. A lover of the arts, she led excursions to art museums, plays, musicals, and concerts.

She helped to start the first arts council in Franklin Township and enjoyed staging art shows and bringing renowned singers, theater companies, and dancers to her community.

She traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Great Britain, Australia and the South Pacific. At 83, she even made it to St. Petersburg, Russia to see the Hermitage. It was a lifelong dream.

To those who knew her, she was a force of nature. She loved celebrations and hosted dinners and parties, both large and small, through all the decades of her life. She particularly loved Christmas and opened up her home every Christmas Eve for an evening of caroling and Christmas cookies; it became a tradition for more than 60 people for 48 years. Friends and family were always welcome in her home and around her table. Some of her children’s adult friends even moved in for months at a time when they needed a place to call home. 

Evelyn was also a lifelong learner. She went back to school and studied computer programming and accounting in the 1970s, before returning to work full time at age 40 as a tax specialist. She attended cultural and public policy courses at Rutgers University for many years after she retired. 

She is survived by her daughter Annalise Roberts and son-in-law Conrad Roberts and their sons, Alexander and Bradford; her daughter Suzanne and son-in-law Rodrigo Diaz and their daughter Alba Diaz Strum; her daughter Claudia Pillow and son-in-law Tim Pillow and their daughters Corrine Pillow and Monica Riefstahl, and Monica’s husband Trent Riefstahl; and her son Donald Strum and his wife Pamela Strum, and their children Melody and Marcus, and Donald’s daughter Macie Strum. 

As Evelyn requested, there will be no public ceremony. Her children and their families will gather at a later date to celebrate her life.

Donations in memory of Evelyn Strum can be made to the Zimmerli Art Museum at https://give.rutgers.edu/strum or by sending a check payable to Rutgers University Foundation with “in memory of Evelyn Strum” in the memo line to: Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , Development Department, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.

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