January 16, 1933 ~ November 25, 2007
Olive Evans, a 39-year resident of Manhattan Beach, passed away at home on November 25, 2007, with her family and friends around her, after a 7-year battle with breast cancer that she fought with courage and humor to the end. Olive was born in London in the borough of East Ham, England, the youngest of identical twins, to Harold and Maude Wheeler on January 16th, 1933. The war years were difficult on the family as they were some times split up and living in different places until they arrived and settled in the county of Buckinghamshire. Olive graduated from high school and went to Goldsmiths College, University of London with her sister, Sylvia. Both ladies took degrees in primary education and happily taught in small village schools in the English countryside, teaching all the children ages from 4 thru 8 years of age. While at college Olive met her future husband, David. They married after a four-year courtship while David was in the British army. This year on August 17th they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Olive continued to teach in a village school while David at tended engineering college. After three years David took a position to Buckinghamshire. While there Olive had two sons but after 4 years the call of America rang loud in David's ears and the family moved to Rochester, New York, where David worked at Xerox and Olive had a third son. After another 4 years the family moved again to sunny Manhattan Beach. This time they settled for the rest of Olive's life. She returned to college at Dominguez Hills State University and earned a degree in English Literature and a credential in early childhood education. For a number of years she taught educationally and emotionally handicapped children. The Manhattan Beach Recreation Department asked her to teach various drama and acting classes. The experience changed the path of Olive's career. The acting bug caught on and she took acting classes and played a 'sassy' cockney maid in a number of English farces in Manhattan Beach as well as acting in many more plays around L.A. One summer she landed leading roles in the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Festival. As a fan of the Jane Austin novels, Olive did public readings where she made Austin's characters come alive. With Pat Grey, Olive set up the administrative side for the start of Manhattan Beach's Sunday Concerts in the Park and did the administration for many years. Olive formed her own business (The Fairy Tale God Mother) as a professional children's story teller and made sets, designed and made literally hundreds of costumes which she took to jobs at schools, churches and private birthday parties. The children donned the costumes and acted out the stories as she narrated them. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Olive gave up her business but discovered that the treatments she was to receive were very nasty indeed. Realizing that the experience could turn into a real 'downer', Olive decided that she would write a children's poetry book about the 40-plus teddy bears she had rescued from thrift stores. Pat Woolley, a local artist and teddy bear lover, joined her to illustrate each poem and Jim Furmston, a well-known musician/composer wrote music to go with each poem and recorded a CD with Olive narrating.
The group self published the "The Thrift Store Bears" and it won the 2006 NABE Children's Interest Book Award. Following that success Olive wrote a second book called "Adventures with The Thrift Store Bears" which has only recently been published. The Wellness Community in Redondo Beach had a special place in Olive's heart for the tremendous support she received from the staff and the inspiration she got from her fellow travelers, all of whom became dear friends on their difficult journey. Olive was a long-time member and elder of the Los Angeles Welsh Presbyterian Church. She will be greatly missed by her family and the many people who loved her. A celebration of her life will be held at the Manhattan Beach Community Church, Peck Avenue, Manhattan Beach at 1:30 PM Sunday, December 9, 2007. Olive is survived by her loving husband, David of Manhattan Beach, CA; son, Gareth Evans (Diana) of Newport Beach, CA; son, Huw; and grandchildren, Alex and Bianca of Stockholm, Sweden; son, David (Alicia); and 10-week-old twin granddaughters, Audrey and Gabriel la of Culver City; sister, Valerie (John); and niece, Sandra of Sydney, Australia; and many nieces, nephews and cousins in the UK. A private funeral service was held for family and close friends at White and Day Mortuary on Friday, 30th November. A celebration of her life will be held at Manhattan Beach Community Church, Peck Avenue, at 1:30 PM Sunday, 9th December. Olive is preceded in death by her parents, twin sister, Sylvia and her brother, David. In lieu of flowers please make donations in Olive's name to The Wellness Community in Redondo Beach.
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