Evelyn Jacobs Ortner of Short Hills, 83, died March 5, 2011. She grew up in Newark and moved to Short Hills in 1963.
Mrs. Ortner started helping others at the age of nine. Growing up in Newark, she founded a group called the Charity Girls that performed musical theater at orphanages, critical care facilities, and homes for the elderly.
After working as a speechwriter and special adviser at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC, in the 1980s, she and her husband returned to New Jersey. In 1990 she founded the Unity Group, which ran a home for battered women in suburban Essex County.
The Unity Group disbanded in 2003 after she became ill and she turned over its assets to the University of Pennsylvania for the founding of the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence.
She graduated from Weequahic High School, Newark. She graduated from Rutgers University and earned a master of arts from Drew University. Her thesis, a biography of the American poet Witter Bynner, was an extension of a decades-long correspondence with him.
She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Robert; her son, Peter; her daughter, Nicole; and a brother, Edward Jacobs.
Private services were held March 13 with arrangements by J.L. Apter Memorial Chapels of Springfield. Memorial contributions may be made to the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice, Philadelphia.