Honoring Dan Evans

ACROSS OUR STATE by Jerri Honeyford


Jerri Honeyford

The Senate last week honored Dan Evans on the 50th anniversary of his swearing-in as governor of the state of Washington. He attended and spoke, a very spry 89-year-old.

What a difference he made for our state!

The following is a list of the years of his life:

1926 - Born Oct. 16 in Seattle. It is interesting to note this his paternal grandparents arrived in Washington Territory in 1859 and settled in Port Gamble. His maternal grandfather was a state senator from Spokane in the 1893 legislative session.

1943 - Graduated from Roosevelt High School, Seattle, where the motto is “What I am to be, I am now becoming.”

1943-1946 - Enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on an aircraft carrier but saw no combat.

1948 and 1949 - Graduated from the UW with a Bachelor’s degree, then a Master’s degree in civil engineering.

1949-1951 - Worked for the city of Seattle as an engineer. It is interesting that he worked on preliminary designs for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

1951-1953 - Served in the Korean War as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

1953-1956 - Started his own engineering company.

1956-1965 - Served in the Washington State House of Representatives from the 43rd district.

1959 - Married Nancy Bell, a Spokane girl and Whitman College graduate who was teaching music in the Shoreline School District. They have three sons.

1965-1977 - Elected to three consecutive terms as Washington’s 16th governor. He followed Albert Rosellini and was succeeded by Dixie Lee Ray.

1977-1983 - Was the second president of Evergreen State College

1983-1988 - Appointed by Gov. John Spellman to finish the term of U.S Sen. Henry M. Jackson and won an election for another term. After the 1988 elections, he retired from politics saying he was tired of the bickering. Slade Gorton succeeded him as senator.

1989 to present - Served on numerous boards. In 1990 he was appointed to the UW Board of Regents by Gov. Mike Lowry, the man he had defeated in the 1984 Senate election.

There are a few interesting stories to tell from the 1960’s and 70’s. The first one happened 50 years ago surrounding his first swearing-in as governor.

Redistricting had been mandated by a federal court before any other bill could be passed that session. So the legislature, which had convened on Monday, and Gov. Rosellini were frantically trying to get a bill through both houses to have a redistricting plan favoring the Democrats before the new administration took office. Evans would be sworn in at noon on Wednesday, but when Tuesday came with no bill yet enacted, the Republicans planned to swear him in at one minute past midnight early Wednesday morning.

In fact, Evan’s wife and parents were already on the way to the Capital to witness that.

Late Tuesday the legislature gave up trying to get their plan enacted, so the ceremony reverted back to noon on Wednesday. It took 47 more days before a fair plan was crafted that Evans would sign. Then the rest of the state’s business could finally be done.

The other story is connected with the 1973 election when former Governor Rosellini ran against Governor Evans. According to the Ellensburg Daily Record of Aug. 29, 1973, Theodore Bundy volunteered for Evans’ campaign. He posed as a college student writing a thesis on the race.

Bundy would follow Rose-llini, record his speeches, and question him on the issues. The newspaper reported in the interview that Bundy and Rosellini’s staff had cordial relations. Yes, this was the Theodore Bundy that became the serial killer!

One last story from last week. When Evans was governor, he was conservative on fiscal issues, but moderate to liberal on others. He set up the Department of Ecology, making Washington the first state to have a state-level department for the environment. It was the model President Nixon used for the EPA on the national level.

I overheard a couple speaking about this and heard one of them say, “I didn’t always agree with his policies, but I liked his a darn sight better than the other guy’s!”

We must thank Dan Evans for his many years of dedication to our state and country. His nickname was “Straight Arrow” and there was little if any scandal surrounding any and all of those years.

He served well.


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