Remembering “Mom of FIRST” Evelyn Kamen

FIRST Founder Dean Kamen Remembers His Mother, Evelyn

Dec 02, 2021 By Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST




Dear FIRST Community,

Evelyn KamenEvelyn Kamen

It is with great sadness that I share the news that my mother, Evelyn Kamen, passed away on Thanksgiving evening. My mother was 96 years old – enjoying a lifespan packed with love, family and accomplishments. Together, she and my father raised four children, and as a schoolteacher she helped educate and nurture thousands more. As the “Mom” of FIRST, she helped hundreds of thousands of students around the world be inspired by FIRST to do and be their very best.

My mother was an important member of a small group of visionaries that helped me found FIRST over thirty years ago. During the start-up years she personally managed all the finances! But her greatest and most lasting contribution to FIRST was her enthusiasm and belief in its mission, visible in her absolute confidence that we could change the world. She supported all of us – the people struggling to build and grow an organization – with her energy and calmness and optimism. She loved all the kids, from the youngest she just met at a FIRST LEGO League event to those who were involved in FIRST for many years as high school students and later as FIRST mentors. She got so much joy from attending FIRST events and was especially delighted by the opportunity to help in the selection of both the Bart Kamen Scholars and the Dean’s List students. She read each nomination with a box of tissues close at hand, moved to tears of happiness by the stories of those amazing students.

My mother will always be in my thoughts. Whenever I share the phrase “I touch the future. I teach.” – now memorialized on our Christa McAuliffe/ FIRST commemorative coin – I think of my Mom. Her life’s work will surely be a lasting inspiration for the entire FIRST community. 


Dean Kamen

Founder, FIRST

For members of the community who would like to honor Evelyn’s memory, we encourage you to make a donation to FIRST, the organization that was closest to her heart.

If you have an inspiring story or piece of wisdom that you’ve picked up through your experiences in the FIRST community, please reach out to us at and inquire about becoming a guest contributor for Inspire.

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