Robert Franklin Evans was born on 13 June 1933 in Warren, Ohio.
He met the love of his life, Marilyn Knight, at Kent State University in 1955, when she sat next to him at a basketball game and ate all his popcorn that he had just purchased from the concession stand. Married in 1957, they never spent more than a week apart in all those 64 amazing years, until Bob suffered a stroke in mid-August this year.
After earning a BA and MA degrees from Kent State University, Bob went on to earn his PhD from Case Western Reserve University. After college, Bob served 4 years in the United States Air Force and as a 2nd lieutenant, learned to navigate by the stars. This led to a passion of the sky’s constellations which he passed onto his children, grandchildren and his school’s sixth grade campers on any clear night.
Bob began his career as a 4th grade teacher and quickly moved into administration where he worked as an Elementary School Principal in the South-Euclid school district in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio for over 30 years.
Bob and Marilyn played Bridge all their adult lives. Wherever they lived, they would be a part of several groups and played regularly. In his retirement, Bob and Marilyn introduced the game to many, by teaching Bridge at OLLI, their retirement community, and anyone else who wanted to learn.
Bob was an active member of the Willoughby Hills United Methodist Church in Willoughby, Ohio, where he served as an usher and greeter for many years.
A strong supporter of education, Bob also encouraged extra-curricular activities. He never missed a sporting event of his children, attending many cross-country and track meets. Bob and Marilyn together supported the Mayfield High School marching band and could be found every home game in the visitor’s side concession stand. As the grandchildren became active, he and Marilyn attended all basketball, football and cross country meets, cheering on the home team enthusiastically.
In some parts of the country, he was known as “Daffodil Bob.” Bob used to wait until the end of the season and buy all the flower bulbs left in his favorite garden store in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. He would then proceed to give “gift bags full” of bulbs to anyone who would take them, but mostly to family and friends. Whatever was left, he would keep in his car along with a small spade, stopping to plant them on any arable land he could find.
In addition to distributing and planting bulbs all over, Bob always had flower beds, usually full of Marilyn’s favorite flower, zinnias. He would pick “bouquets” to give out to everyone he met. He had some regulars on his bouquet delivery route such as neighbors, his bank and the Weaverville library. He also gave flowers to anyone he came across on his daily walks around Lake Louise in Weaverville, NC.
He enjoyed fishing and would take the kids and the grandkids often. He spent decades traveling to the same area in Northern Ontario, Canada, to fish for Walleye and Northern Pike. He first went to the area with his father and grandfather and later with his own children and grandchildren. And there were always trips to his sister Lucy’s pond with the ever-elusive monster bass to be caught.
A coach, player and umpire, Bob could be found on the softball fields in Mayfield Village, Ohio in the summers when he and Marilyn were raising a young family of three. He was known for his pedantic application of the rules and always prevailed over any contested calls.
Taking his children, and later grandchildren for hikes in the woods, often in the Metro Parks in Cleveland, Ohio, was also a favorite pastime. If available, he’d grab his son’s family’s dog and to take with him. He carried dog biscuits in his pockets so he could offer a treat to every dog he met. He also kept dog bones in the console of his car, stopping along any road if he came across someone walking man’s best friend.
Bob and Marilyn retired in 1991 and eventually moved to to Weaverville, NC, leaving the snowy winters in northeastern Ohio behind. Nonetheless, Bob and Marilyn returned often to Ohio over the years, to visit family and friends left behind.
The couple enjoyed traveling everywhere their children and grandchildren lived across the United States and to foreign climes such as Kenya, Egypt, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Austria, where Marilyn had relatives.
Bob never met a stranger and could be often found hamming it up or dancing on the ballroom floor. If you happen to ever wait on a table somewhere he was dining out, he would learn all about you, your family, where you were from and went to school, what you were studying and what your dreams were by the time the after-dinner coffee was served. Every time. It was just who he was.
Robert F. Evans is survived by his wife, Marilyn K. Evans of Arden, NC; three children Laurel Broadhurst of Arden, NC, Larry Evans of The Villages, FL and Leigh Evans of Pisgah Forest, NC; five grandchildren Rachel (Evans) Rae, Nathaniel Broadhurst, Tim Evans, Travis Broadhurst and Bryan Broadhurst; and one great granddaughter Aspen Claire Broadhurst. He is also survived by his brother, Don Evans of Elephant Butte, NM, and his sister, Lucy Bean of Windsor, Ohio in addition to several nieces and nephews.
He will be greatly missed by his family and all those who knew him. There will be a celebration of life on 6 November at 2:00 in the afternoon, in the Ardenwoods Retirement Community dining room located at 2400 Appalachian Blvd., in Arden. COVID protocols will be followed.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Robert “Bob” Evans may be sent to the KSU Foundation, P.O. Box 5190, Kent, OH, 44242, or online at givetokent.org. Please indicate the EHHS Dean’s Scholarship Fund #16367 on the Memo line of your check or on the online form.