CINCINNATI - The community support for the family of a slain pizzeria owner has been “amazing,” Hartwell neighbor Dawn Murray said Wednesday.
“We never imagined it would get this big,” said Murray, who set up the Rich Evans Family Support Fund at gofundme.com. “We’re starting to hear from businesses now. Buddy LaRosa made a donation last night. We’re hoping to hear from others.”
Donations for Evans’ widow and three young children were nearing $30,000 Wednesday. There had been 342 donors in three days– with contributions ranging from $10 to $1,500 from LaRosa, Cincinnati’s pizza king.
Some, including LaRosa, wrote condolences:
“I never met Mr. Evans, but I admire him as an entrepreneur and family man. I offer prayers for his wife and young children during this difficult time.” – Buddy LaRosa
“So sorry to learn of this tragic loss. Richard Evans was really an asset to the community.” – The Potvin Family
“We will forever miss you and your kind spirit.” - Carl & Juliana Swabek
“My family is new to Hartwell. Our first night in the new house we ordered a pizza from Cosmic and returned often for their yummy pizza. Rich was always so kind and passionate about his little business … I am proud to be a part of this special little community. May your soul find peace, Rich. Your family is in our prayers.” – The Tenbosch Family
Murray said the support from neighbors and strangers alike is bringing “tremendous comfort” to Evans’ widow, a native of Thailand who speaks little English and has no family in the area.
“The people of Cincinnati are always generous to people in need. And Hartwell is like Mayberry. Everybody on my street knows the name of everybody else on the street,” said Murray, who was the Hartwell community council president for eight years.
Evans was shot to death in his small but popular restaurant, Cosmic Pizza, on Saturday during an attempted robbery, police said. The suspect, John Deloney, is still at large.
Murray said she and several neighbors are watching over Evans’ widow – who goes by the nickname “O” - along with her 8-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter and baby girl.
“We were at the cemetery today, and we went shopping to get something for ‘O’ and her children to wear at the funeral,” Murray said.
“There are a lot of good people helping out,” she said. “We’ve kept a circle of four or five women around her so she’s comfortable. She’s very shy. I was told that people from Thailand don’t want to feel pity or shame. We wanted to be careful how we looked at her, so she knew we weren’t looking at her like that.
“She’s starting to open up a little,” Murray said.
She’s even conversing in English.
“We have a neighbor whose aunt is from Thailand and she offered to translate, but we found we didn’t need her. ‘O’ is doing well in English. She doesn’t always get it right the first time, but we’re feeling things out,” Murray said.
Murray said she can’t imagine what Evans’ widow is going through without any family around, and she and her neighbors are helping her take the first steps to get her business in order.
“All of other women helping her have a husband who takes care of the finances. I’m the only one who takes care of the family finances,” Murray said. “She’s never paid the water bill or the electric bill or written a check. She doesn’t drive. She has to learn a lot of things, and we’re going to help her with that.”
Others are helping in different ways. Area restaurants, including Teranga and Jim Dandy’s, have delivered free meals to the family, Murray said.
Murray said she started the online fund because people kept filling up her home mailbox with donations.
“It’s so wonderful, when something bad happens, to see people give this much support,” Murray said. “I want to say thank you to everyone.”
Visitation for Evans is 11 a.m. -1 p.m. Friday at Hodapp Funeral Home, 701 Vine St., in Carthage. Services follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the family fund are appreciated.
Donate to the fund at http://www.gofundme.com/3ac52k