William “Bill” Evans, 91, of Hastings, Nebraska, died of natural causes on Sept. 25.
Bill was born March 18, 1926, in Rexburg, Idaho, to Irene C. and W. Leon Evans. He grew up in Yellowstone Park where his father was a park ranger. While still in high school, he started working for the park service driving garbage trucks, fighting fires, trapping and releasing bears, working the pumping station at Yellowstone Lake, and driving patrol. In 1944, Bill graduated from Park County High School in Livingston, Montana, and enlisted in the Army Air Corps in August the same year. He was discharged in August 1946 and returned to work in the park before heading off to college.
In 1951, Bill graduated from the University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in forestry. In the fall of his senior year, he met Betty Overcash whom he married in Cut Bank, Montana, in August 1951. They had four daughters, each born in a different location in Montana. During his 32-year career with the forest service, Bill worked as a district ranger, forest supervisor and in other positions and assignments in Montana and South Dakota, and at the regional offices in Colorado and New Mexico before a final assignment in Washington D. C. as director of the range division. Over the years, he received several awards for his work.
During their time in Montana, four daughters arrived at the Evans house: Connie, in Choteau, in 1952, Jo, in Phillipsburg, in 1954, Terry, in Columbus, in 1956, and Sue, in Ekalaka, in 1958. Though initially unsure of what to do with four girls, Bill soon learned they could do most anything (based on the sound advice of good friend Jean “Pete” Hamre) and he included them in the hunting, fishing, camping, backpacking, canoeing, skiing and other experiences like those he had encountered while growing up in Yellowstone. He encouraged them to be all that they could be without limit.
During their time in the Washington, D.C., area, Bill and Betty learned to sail. His retirement in 1983 was followed by a move to New Bern, North Carolina, and the purchase of their final and most seaworthy sailboat, which enabled them to enjoy sailing down the east coast to Florida and then to the Bahamas for the winter in each of the next eight years. In 1991, they made their final move to Santa Clara, where they enjoyed touring the Southwest with a camping trailer, together with fishing in Lake Meade and Lake Powell. Recent years in St. George centered on golf, astronomy, carving birds, computers and local sightseeing in favorite places like Zion National Park. For the last three years, Bill and Betty have lived in Hastings, Nebraska, at the Kensington near their daughter Terry and her husband, David.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Leon and Irene Evans, his brother-in-law Robert Hall, and his grandson, Jasper Griffith. He is survived by his loving wife, Betty, to whom he was married over 66 years; his sister Kathleen Hall in Kalispell, Montana; his daughters Connie Griffith in Helena, Montana; Jo Katkus in Wasilla, Alaska; Terry (David) Lovekin in Hastings, Nebraska; and Susan Evans in Idaho Falls, Idaho; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren along with his niece and nephew and their children and grandchildren.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. DeWitt Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Hastings is handling arrangements. Memorials may be directed to a charity of your choice. Condolences can be left at www.dewittfuneral.com.