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Philanthropist, Zionist, activist, Tucsonan Evie Pozez dies at 84

Evie Pozez

Evelyn Shirley Whitebook Pozez was “always gracious and grateful to people around her,” says Stuart Mellan, CEO and president of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. “First and foremost, I’ll remember her shining spirit and ever-present smile.”

Mrs. Pozez, 84, died on Friday, Dec. 17, 2010. Born in Iowa City, Iowa, she graduated from the University of Iowa, before moving to Tulsa, Okla., where she met her future husband, Shaol Pozez. She raised her family in Topeka, Kan., and moved with Shaol to Tucson in 1984, several years after Shaol’s cousin Louis and his wife, Ruthann Pozez, settled here.

Mrs. Pozez was a passionate Zionist who strongly supported Jewish causes. With her husband, she was instrumental in the building of the Federation campus, Tucson Hebrew Academy and the Tucson Jewish Community Center, which, says Mellan, “would look very different today had they not chosen Tucson.”

She helped establish the Lion of Judah ­division of Women’s Philanthropy at the ­Federation, and was the first woman from Tucson to win the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award from the National Lions of Judah in 2006. Mrs. Pozez also served on the boards of Jewish ­Family & Children’s Services and the JCC. She was involved with AIPAC, the Desert Caucus, Congregation Anshei Israel and Temple Emanu-El. In the greater Tucson community, she supported the Angel Charity for Children and the El Rio Foundation, among others.

“From the point of view of philanthropy, Evie did something that wasn’t standard,” says Mellan. “She was always a full partner with Shaol. [After he died] she made the decision to fund all philanthropic commitments at the same level, which is not something that surviving spouses always do.”

“I’d like my mom’s memory to be for a blessing,” says Shelley Pozez. “I would like people whose lives she enriched to remember her with an afterglow of smiles.”

Mrs. Pozez was predeceased by her husband of 50 years, Shaol Pozez, and her sister, Carole Jean Levine. Survivors include her children, Melanie (Jay) Blumberg of Studio City, Calif.; William Pozez of Langhorn, Pa.; Shelley Pozez (Bill Holmes) and Mitchell (Robin) Pozez, both of Tucson; and seven grandchildren. She is also survived by her sisters and brothers-in-law, Ruthann Pozez of Tucson; Marcia (Stanley) Kurtz and Jerry (Deidra) Pozez, and Al Rosenfield, all of Texas.

Services were held Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010 at Congregation Anshei Israel with Rabbi Robert Eisen officiating, followed by a graveside service in the Anshei Israel section of Evergreen Cemetery, with Eisen and Cantor Ivor Lichterman officiating.

Memorial contributions may be made to Tucson Hebrew Academy, Congregation Anshei Israel-USY Shaol Pozez Memorial fund, or to Peppi’s House, Tucson Medical Center’s hospice facility.