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Sara Nachamson Evans Dead at 80

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Sara Nachamson Evans, a local, regional and national leader of Hadassah who was active for more than a half century on behalf of Israel, Jewish and civic causes, died at Duke Hospital here Sunday at the age of 80. She was the wife of Emanuel Evans who served as Mayor of Durham from 1950-63 and who, with her, created and supported the Judaic Studies Center at Duke University and the University of North Carolina over the past 15 years.

Evans inherited her passion for Israel from her mother, Jenny Nachamson, who founded the first Hadassah chapters in the South in 1919 and led the organization while raising nine children.

Sara Evans served as president of the Durham chapter of Hadassah, and from 1942-45 as president of Hadassah’s Seaboard region, which covered nine states. A life member of the Hadassah national board since 1942, she was its national vice president from 1954-57.

A dynamic public speaker, she was known as Hadassah’s “southern accent” during her travels across the South, beginning in the late 1930’s, organizing local and state chapters.

During World War II, she and her husband signed more than 50 affidavits enabling Jews fleeing from Hitler’s Europe to come to the United States. The guarantee of a job from an American citizen was a prerequisite for them to obtain a visa. Many were employed in the Nachamson family chain of stores in North Carolina and Virginia, known as United Department Stores.

After the founding of Israel in 1948, the Evanses lobbied for political support of Israel among the North Carolina Congressional delegation and other political leaders in the South. She headed the Women’s Division of the United Way campaign in Durham in 1952 and was a member of the League of Women Voters and the North Carolina Board of the American Association of the United Nations.

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