The Historic Tabor Opera House and relatives of Evelyn Furman would like to pay tribute to her during this month of her passing on to a heavenly life. This article from Leadvilles' Herald Democrat newspaper tells her story better than we could so we're posting it here.
With all her heart she wanted to live to be 100 years old thinking she could then be on TV and tell everyone about the opera house. Little did we know that the "American Pickers" would choose this wonderful historic jewel to visit. I'm thinking mom may have had a hand in it and is now smiling down from heaven since the "Pickers" and the History channel have made it possible for the Tabor Opera Houses' plight to be viewed all across the country. Bill and I plan on making this years' summer season the best ever with a lot of help from those who love Leadville "the city two miles closer to heaven" and the amazing and magical Tabor Opera House. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she were orchestrating what needs to be the last year of our family's ownership. Love you mom!
Sharon Furman Bland
February 9, 2014
Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2011 12:00 am
Ever since 1879 when it first opened its doors, the Tabor Opera House has been the site of numerous funerals for prominent Leadville citizens.
On Sunday, Feb. 20, the opera house hosted a celebration of the life of Evelyn Livingston Furman, the woman who, according to her son-in-law Bill Bland, "loved this grand old building" and who is credited with saving it.
Furman died on Wednesday, Feb. 16, two years and two months short of her 100th birthday, "one of the few goals she did not reach," Bland commented on Sunday.
She was born on April 17, 1913, in Minnesota, but moved to Leadville at the age of 20 to take a position as nanny with a geology professor. One of the provisions of the job was that he teach her geology.
She soon met and married Gordon Furman, a miner, and the couple moved to a mining cabin close to the Matchless Mine where Baby Doe Tabor was living. Furman did meet Baby Doe several times and became interested in the Tabor saga.
Gordon Furman lost his arm in an accident with an ore crusher, and Evelyn Furman, unlike many women of that time, started her own business. She bought a Maytag washer and went door to door attempting to find a buyer. When she did, she took the proceeds and bought two more washers. This led to the establishment of the Furman Store, and Furman traveled to towns all around the area selling her appliances.
The Furmans had two children, Sharon Bland and a son who lived only a few days.
Her association with the Tabor Opera House dates back to 1954, when the opera house was owned by the Elks, and the organization decided to sell it. One potential buyer had plans to tear down the building and build a parking lot at that location. Furman stepped up with $20,000 and bought the building instead, thus starting her love affair with the opera house, according to Bill Bland, who said in many ways that his mother-in-law was a soulmate to Augusta Tabor. Her life goal became one of preserving the history of the building.
During the summer months Evelyn Furman shared the opera-house's story with visitors from all over the world. She particularly recalled a visit from two men, Douglas Moore and John Latouche, early in her ownership. The two indicated they were writing something about the Tabors, and wanted to get into the opera house. After she let them into the cold building, they stood on the stage, looking over the empty seats in the audience. Finally one said, "I've got it. I've got it." This resulted in "The Ballad of Baby Doe," which has played on many stages since then, including Leadville's Tabor Opera House.
Furman wrote four books about the infamous Tabors over the years. She also was an avid traveler, going around the world three times.
Her most recent visit to the opera house was on Memorial Day weekend when she walked up to the second floor, taking 45 minutes, to visit the museum assembled there and containing many of the items that she had saved over the years.
Sharing their memories at the service were Jack Thorpe, a friend, and Maryellen Thoren, speaking on behalf of the Tabor Opera House Foundation.
Furman is survived by daughter Sharon (Bill) Bland; two grandchildren, Heather (Ted) Cumpston and Richard Krueger; great-grandchildren Nikole Cumpston, Marc Cumpston, and Kyler Krueger; stepson Jeff Bland, stepdaughter Jackie (Brian) Hunt and three step great-grandchildren, Josh, Bethany and Austin.
A viewing at the Bailey Funeral Home was Saturday, Feb. 19, followed by the funeral Sunday at the opera house. Interment was at Elks Rest in Evergreen Cemetery followed by a reception at the Elks Lodge.
Furman had asked Bill Bland to perform her funeral service and Sharon Bland to sing. Other music was provided by Jeff Bland and Donna Schaefer.
Pallbearers were Richard Krueger, Marc Cumpston, George Benson, Kyler Krueger, Carl Schaefer and Lynn Metz.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation, P.O. Box 1004, Leadville, CO 80461.
- Marcia Martinek, Herald Editor
LOVE HISTORY? LOVE EXPLORING? ..... THIS IS THE PLACE !
Experience the Old West as you tour the main floor and dressing rooms.
If you're brave enough, perform on-stage and upload to facebook...they'll never believe it !
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Main Tours 10AM - 5PM Monday through Saturday
ENJOY AN EVENT HERE....BELIEVE IT OR NOT YOU CAN SIT IN THE ORIGINAL ANDREWS OPERA CHAIRS....BE A PART OF THE HISTORY WHILE YOU'RE WATCHING THE SHOW!
EVENING TOURS OF "TABOR'S SECOND STORY" MUSEUM AVAILABLE BY APPOINTMENT
Tabor's Second Story Museum contains personal items that belonged to HAW Tabor. Augusta Tabor, and Baby Doe Tabor as well as many Leadville items.
NEW FLASHLIGHT TOURS AVAILABLE BY APPOINTMENT
Call 303-550-1049 for an appointment Memorial Day through Labor Day
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