Ralph Victor Evans lived a full and impactful life, filled with family, friends, and acquaintances whose lives he touched with laughter, wisdom, and love.
Ralph was born on February 8, 1924, to Ralph “Bud” Evans and Carmen Imo Jones Evans on a farm in Shubert, Nebraska. The youngest of four, “Vic” enjoyed working on the farm alongside his brothers, Herbert Landon Evans and Arthur Burton Evans, and his sister, Margery Eleanor Evans Teel. The entire family worked hard on the farm, especially during the Great Depression, but they enjoyed time with cousins and friends who lived nearby. The Evans family loved music, honoring their Welsh heritage, and often performed together, with Carmen or Margery playing the piano in accompaniment to the boys and their dad’s singing quartet.
After graduating from Shubert High School, he worked for a brief time at the bomber plant in Omaha, Nebraska. When duty called, Ralph enlisted in the Army Air Corps, serving his country as a ball turret gunner stationed in Molesworth, England during World War II. He and his crew joined bombing raids, flying across the English Channel to various targets on the Continent and dropping their payload. During one mission, Ralph’s ball turret was struck by antiaircraft flak and the viewing screen shattered, spraying shards of broken glass into his eyes. His crewmembers rescued him from the gun bay, sprinkled sulfa powder into his eyes, bandaged him up, and told him to sit still until they could get him back to a doctor in English—many hours away. For this wartime injury, he was awarded the Purple Cross in addition to two bronze stars.
Returning to Stateside, Ralph enrolled in Peru State Teacher’s College in Peru, Nebraska. Although he originally wanted to become a farmer like his father, Ralph Sr. convinced him to try another career and R.V. chose teaching. The fun-loving Nebraska boy earned the nickname BMOC (Big Man on Campus) while at college and thoroughly enjoyed social activities. He continued to enjoy one of his favorite pastimes, singing, and that’s how he met his future wife, Yvonne Ann Lewis. Yvonne’s coloratura soprano voice and Ralph’s rich baritone blended beautifully in the small singing ensemble they joined, where they would travel to area churches and events, entertaining audiences. Eventually, this love for music blossomed further, and Ralph asked Yvonne to marry him. The date was set after their graduation from college.
August 7, 1949, was one of the first notable milestones in their marriage. That summer day in Rock Port, Missouri, where the wedding ceremony was performed at the First Christian Church, was punctuated by Ralph’s serious case of poison ivy, exacerbated by the hot temperatures and his heavy wedding attire. But even though the young groom was itchy and uncomfortable, the discomfort of the situation became a sweet memory for the young couple and memorialized their first step into married life – a marriage that lasted for 71 years.
After a honeymoon, Ralph took his first job near Lake Okiboji, Iowa, where he was an industrial arts & math teacher, principal, and all-around chief cook and bottle washer at the small high school. Yvonne taught grades 2-4, and they both shivered in the bitingly cold winter winds that blew off the lake. A change was in order, so Ralph took a job as a high school teacher in Sidney, Iowa, where they had their first “real” home. Yvonne taught kindergarten at Sidney until the birth of their two children, Kathryne Kay (1955) and Brian Ralph (1957).
Following Brian’s arrival, the couple moved to Topeka, Kansas, where Ralph was a teacher/administrator for Topeka’s ISD 501 until he retired in 1990. Starting out as a math and industrial arts teacher, Ralph earned his master’s degree in counseling from Emporia State Teachers College, and he continued mentoring young teens as a guidance counselor throughout his career – first at Jardine Junior High and later at Chase Middle School. “Mr. Evans” was well known for his quick smile and friendly attitude, and he was loved and respected by the hundreds of students he guided over the years.
During his professional years, Ralph was a member of Epsilon Pi Tau fraternity for teachers in industrial arts. He was also an active member of the Topeka Breakfast Optimist for many years.
Ralph will be Lying-in-state with visitation on Thursday, 9/17 from 5:00-7:00 pm at the Dove Southwest Chapel (3700 SW Wanamaker). Private graveside service will be held at Leavenworth National Cemetery, followed by a Celebration of Life service at Dove Southwest Chapel on Friday, 9/18, at 1:00 pm.
To leave a special message for the family online, click the Share Memories button above.