Eva Pinthus obituary

My friend Eva Pinthus, who has died aged 95, was a theology teacher and lecturer whose speciality was providing pastoral care to university students. In the late 1950s she spent two years as deputy warden at Ashburne Hall, Manchester University, and from 1960 until 1968 she was warden of Cleminson Hall at Hull University, where her dog Tigger was an unofficial “therapy dog” for students.

Eva was born in Berlin to Heinrich Pinthus, a solicitor in his family’s legal firm, and his wife, Margarethe (nee Katschke), who worked as his secretary. She was part of a loving Jewish family, but her only sibling, a sister, died from tuberculosis when Eva was 10, and then her father died of a gastric illness, when she was 14. After Kristallnacht in 1938 Eva managed to flee to Britain on a Kindertransport train, but had to leave her mother behind in Germany. Margarethe was later sent to her death in Auschwitz.

Alone on her arrival in Britain, Eva was sponsored by a family who paid for her to go to Nayland House boarding school in Sevenoaks, Kent, and she was baptised into the Church of England. After leaving school she spent two years working as an auxiliary nurse at the cottage hospital in St Paul’s Cray, Kent, before, in 1945, becoming a junior matron at Northfield school in Huntingford, to where it had been evacuated from Watford during the second world war.

She then trained as a nurse at Bedford hospital, and after qualification returned in 1949 to Northfield as the school nurse. Thanks to the influence of Northfield’s head teacher, Doris Martin, Eva became a Quaker, and this led her to join the Quakers’ Friends Relief Service, for whom she travelled to Germany in 1950 to help set up a project to build a peace centre near Bückeburg under the auspices of the German Fellowship of Reconciliation.

After a period as nurse to a family in Birmingham that had contracted infective hepatitis, she decided to study theology at the University of Birmingham, where she was the first woman to take the subject.

She obtained her theology degree in 1955 and, after teacher training at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, taught scripture at Aigburth Vale High school in Liverpool from 1956-58 before taking up her warden posts at Ashburne Hall and then Cleminson Hall. From 1968 until her retirement in 1981 she was a senior lecturer in theology at City of Leeds and Carnegie College of Education (now Leeds Beckett University), training teacher students. During that time she gained an MPhil from King’s College London in urban education.

For 15 years up to 1989 Eva travelled each year during her summer holidays to communist East Germany to work with churches and East German Quakers in peace activism and conflict resolution. A lot of that work was hidden, and Eva was proud to find out later that there was a Stasi file on her.

In retirement in the village of Menston in West Yorkshire, which had been her home since 1959, she worked for a chaplaincy team that serves higher education students in Leeds, and she was also the Quaker representative on the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council.

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