(Editor’s note: A long-time Via de la Paz resident, Evelyn Smith, has bequeathed $343,000 to Theatre Palisades as well as the Friends of the Palisades Library. She also donated a similar amount to several other nonprofit groups outside of Pacific Palisades. Theatre Palisades posted a lovely tribute to the woman, and we are reprinting it here.)
Theatre Palisades announced at its annual membership meeting that it received a bequest, recently, of incredible generosity from a former subscriber and audience member, Evelyn Z. Smith. Her bequest was $343,000. It is the largest single donation the theater has ever received.
Evelyn was a very private person, who did not share a lot. But we do know some things about her. She was born in November 1927, possibly in Armenia. Her family’s last name was Zahigian, which was shortened to Zahig. Her family emigrated to Ohio, but that exact date is not known.
The family moved from Ohio to Pacific Palisades in 1953. Her parents purchased a house on Via de la Paz and resided in it until they passed (her mother died in 1998). Evelyn then resided in her parents’ house until her passing last year. She did have a brother and sister (Herbert and Joan) who predeceased her.
Evelyn and her husband lived in Texas until she was widowed. She never had any children, and her sister and brother also had no children. After losing her husband she had moved back to Pacific Palisades to look after her mother.
Evelyn was a librarian and worked at the Los Angeles Public Library downtown. She was an avid reader as you might expect! She had polio as a child which left her with a disability and difficulty walking. But she was passionate and determined to live in her parents’ house which she loved throughout her final days. And she did.
Sadly, she had suffered a stroke in about 2012, which necessitated 24/7 care. She was blessed to have two neighbors who took charge of her affairs and made sure she remained in the house she loved. Thanks for their kindness go to Michelle Achen (Executor) and Michael P. Flattery (Attorney for Evelyn’s estate).
Theatre Palisades could not be more grateful for Evelyn’s generosity, which puts us in enviably strong fiscal condition. And which will enable us to undertake improvements to make Pierson Playhouse an even better venue for live theatre!
A prayer of thanks to Evelyn Z. Smith!
President, Board of Directors