Evelyn Fryer’s earliest memory is riding in a street car holding an orange kitten hidden inside a shoebox. She and her dad picked up their first cat when she was three years old. “This was before we could afford a car,” said Evelyn. “I don’t think the cat would have been allowed on the street car, but I held it in the box on my lap.” So was born her passion for animals, felines in particular.
Many years later, Evelyn developed a second passion—science. Drawn to chemistry and biology in high school, she was fortunate to have teachers who guided her towards college.
This year, Evelyn solidified her passion for animals and science with a generous gift to the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) and to the Frank and Evelyn Fryer Radiation Therapy and Physical Rehabilitation Clinic.
In addition to her philanthropy, Evelyn is also a member of the SVM Board of Visitors. “It keeps me involved,” said Evelyn. “I am really in love with medical research, biology, all of that. This has been an opportunity to stay in the field.” It also is a great place for her to be an advocate for animals.
Presently, Evelyn has two cats and a parade of foster kittens. She is involved in her local shelter and helps socialize kittens. “I feel every child should be raised with some kind of animal, be it a cat, a dog, a horse or even a bird,” said Fryer. “It is a wonderful experience and teaches responsibility. I also think seniors should have some kind of companion animal, especially if they live alone.”
Evelyn believes strongly in taking good care of her animals. “After I brought my first kitty to the school’s hospital I was impressed,” she said. “That made my involvement more focused on what we could do for the clinic.”
When the school proposed bringing TomoTherapy to the hospital, Evelyn did her research before deciding to support this project. (TomoTherapy is a combination of a linear accelerator and a CT scanner, offering superior precision in the delivery of radiation to tumors.) Evelyn visited the TomoTherapy Company to learn about the equipment, she talked to veterinarians and scientists in cancer research about their plans, and she examined the business side. “It developed into a facility with a broader scope than the school first planned,” said Evelyn. “Because of radiation restrictions, it became an actual addition to the School of Veterinary Medicine rather than a room remodel.”
Ultimately Evelyn’s commitment to science and research was instrumental in the completion of the new clinic. At the clinic’s opening ceremony in April 2011, Daryl Buss, dean of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, introduced Evelyn and commented on her advocacy for cats. “Immediately after his comments a woman came up to me, gave me a hug, and said she was so happy I had the interest of cats at heart,” said Evelyn. “She then explained that her kitty was the first to be treated at the new clinic. We chatted and she gave me all the details of his treatment and his amazing progress. This is what giving is all about.”