WHEN EVA R. Salomon died this month at age 94, Carroll County lost a survivor who also happened to be an optimist. For the past 50 years, she made her home in Sykesville and infused the community with her strong sense of concern for the welfare of neighbors, friends and patients.
Her attitude is remarkable given the struggles she endured in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Mrs. Salomon and her husband, Hermann, a physician, had been raised in an environment of privilege in Cologne. Mrs. Salomon said she often thought of herself as a German first and a Jew second. But in 1938, after a Gestapo agent tried to frame them for supposedly illegal financial transactions, they decided to flee.
They arrived in New York with all of $10. Her husband had trouble adjusting to the hardships of a life in poverty after leading one of leisure. Mrs. Salomon, on the other hand, viewed their predicament as an adventure. Unable to find any other work, Mrs. Salomon became a peddler selling aprons and socks on New York's streets. Mrs. Salomon liked to joke that she was the Big Apple's best-dressed peddler.
When the U.S. went to war, Dr. and Mrs. Salomon were considered "enemy aliens" because of their German citizenship. They decided to become citizens. Years later, she loved to recall that she became a U.S. citizen on D-Day. She also marveled that this country must be wonderful because in one day it transformed her from an "enemy alien" into a citizen.
During the war, Mrs. Salomon had become a practical nurse working for refugee doctors. When her husband heard that Springfield Hospital was in desperate need of doctors and was willing to hire foreign-trained ones, they moved to Sykesville.
Mrs. Salomon worked there, too, and discovered that she had a gift for helping the mentally ill. Studying part-time, she earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work and embarked on a new career -- at the age of 52. She became Springfield's director of social work, a position she held until she was forced to retire at age 70. She did volunteer work at the institution for much of the next quarter-century. Her contributions to this community were many, and many people will miss her kindly and thoughtful presence.