The Evans Family: Giving for More Than a Lifetime
For Alice Evans and her family, gifts to Augsburg are an expression of values they share with each other and with the College. "The Evans family supports Augsburg because we see the College's progressive programs, faculty and diverse student body as witness of Augsburg's commitment to the city and the values we share," says Alice. In support of this mission, the Pastor Bob Evans Scholarship was established in 1998 to honor her husband, Bob, and his work in the low-income communities of the near north side of Minneapolis. Alice and Pastor Bob are parents of Augsburg graduate John Evans '82 and grandparents of Aren Olson '11.
In 2011, Alice decided to include Augsburg and the Pastor Bob Evans Scholarship in her estate plan. With that commitment she became a member of Augsburg's Sven Oftedal Society. This scholarship provides monetary awards for either a student of color or a student with disabilities with preference given to a student from North Minneapolis who is involved in church activities and community service. "We choose to make current and deferred gifts to Augsburg largely because of the College's ongoing commitment to being in and of the city of Minneapolis."
Several Evans family members have attended Augsburg and share a commitment to the school. Like Alice, son John '82 and his wife Joan '83 are members of the Oftedal Society. They are also generous donors to the Augsburg Fund and Augsburg Athletics. Joan's sister Lori Moline graduated from Augsburg in 1982. Grandson Aren Olson in 2011. "Our family is proud to be associated with Augsburg and its ongoing faithful mission to the city," says Alice.
Living Their Faith
The son of a Lutheran minister, Bob was raised in International Falls, Minn. After serving in post WWII Germany, Bob attended St. Olaf College and Luther Seminary. While at the seminary he began working in north Minneapolis. Right after seminary he and Pastor Ham Muus accepted calls to lead the Plymouth Christian Youth Center (PCYC) in north Minneapolis. Bob and Alice met while she was teaching Sunday school there and studying at The Lutheran Bible Institute to be a parish worker. After their marriage Alice studied for a short time at Augsburg and eventually earned degrees in education and social work from the University of Minnesota.
PCYC, originally a settlement house program for city youth, also developed The Wilderness Canoe Base on the edge of what is now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. "Dad was an early practitioner of experiential education, using this ministry to bring boys from inner city areas, the housing projects, and state training schools on camping and canoeing trips to help them build friendships, learn trust, grow their faith, and to develop an understanding and appreciation of nature," John reflected.
In 1960, Bob became pastor of Prince of Glory Lutheran Church in the Glenwood Olson housing projects. The three Evans children, John, Kristin Evans Olson, and Kari Evans Conroy, all attended school and grew up there. John shared that his father worked to find creative and unexpected ways to draw people into the church. One Christmas he used live farm animals in the church's nativity display. "It's safe to say that few nativity scenes received as much attention, especially when the donkey escaped and got lost one night," remembers John.
During those years, the Evans were deeply engaged in the U.S. government's war on poverty programs and the civil rights movement. Reflecting the importance of early education for children, the Bryant-Glenwood Montessori School and day care was started for about 60 neighborhood children and families in the church basement. "As part of the community, this was an educational service we could provide," shared Alice, who was the school's first director.
While at Prince of Glory, Bob worked with Augsburg Professor Joel Torstenson and Reverend Joe Bash to develop an Augsburg experiential education program called "Journey to the City." This program worked to create a community between Augsburg students and people who lived and worked on the North Side. "It fit to coordinate our work with Augsburg because of the school's similar goals and values and the fact that several Augsburg faculty were already involved with urban concerns and issues," said Alice.
"However, when son John came to Augsburg, suddenly the family's connection with Augsburg was all about hockey," laughs Alice. But even then they found Auggies to be a special breed. "We enjoyed sitting with the hockey families and finding out that many of them also had very progressive concerns about society and how we live out our Christian faith and values."
Legacy Lasts More Than a Lifetime
When Bob developed Parkinson's disease at age 50, he accepted a part-time job with the Bishop Elmo Agrimson of the southeastern Minnesota district of the American Lutheran Church. When he later left due to disability he joined three north side churches, Zion Lutheran, St Olaf Lutheran and Bethel Lutheran working in a visitation and neighborhood outreach capacity. He loved the neighborhood and even when he used a walker to get around, Bob would still go door-to-door visiting folks in the neighborhood. "I used to worry about him," says Alice, "but he was never worried. He believed in people."
Alice hopes people will recognize Bob's name on his scholarship and know that she and the rest of the family are working with Augsburg to continue the work. As John says, "Dad was a quiet Norwegian American. He would be humbled by the idea that his life could serve as an example to others long after his presence on earth."
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