Helen Oates (EVANS) BArch
College friend Penny Cameron (WYNDHAM: 1957-59) remembers:
Helen Evans came to Sydney University when she was sixteen, and went straight to the Women’s College. She was studying architecture. By their very nature architects must be polymaths, and so it was with Helen. She could turn her mind to most topics, and was highly articulate.
In 1957 freshers at Women’s College were housed in shared rooms on the middle floor of the beautiful old Main Building. Helen and I shared the room opposite the top of the stairs; further down the hall there was a large room which we knew as the barn. After dinner we would descend upon the barn to drink indifferent coffee and talk. Our discussions were wide ranging and had all the insights you would expect from sixteen and seventeen year olds. Helen’s contributions were witty, sensible and kind.
Our days at college ended and we went on our separate ways. The period from your twenties to your fifties is full of activity and inevitable losses, and Helen bore some heavy blows. Worst of all was the death of her husband Neil when her daughter Emily was very small and Nevin not yet born. With immense courage Helen set about rebuilding her life, returning to her work as a landscape architect. She was particularly proud of the care with which she chose native plants and eradicated dangerous vegetation. An early ecologist, she was conscientious and meticulous in her practice.
By 1992, when we met again, she was justly proud of her family and enjoying both practicing and teaching landscape architecture.
Helen believed in the power of the sisterhood, and her college friendships were very important to her, so every year a group of her friends would gather to celebrate her birthday. Her last days were spent on the ninth floor of the Life House at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and we could see our old room from her balcony. She felt close to friends she had made in college to the very end.
Vale 22 June 2018