Lamar University First Lady Nancy Evans dies at 68

Nancy and Ken Evans

Nancy Evans, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, teacher and friend, passed away on June 22, 2018 in Beaumont, Texas. Nancy was born on December 2, 1949 near San Francisco, California. As an adult she and her husband Ken lived in Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, yet she continued to a hold a special love for California. She had especially fond memories of Sundays at the beach with her parents and sisters Charlene and Jenna as well as summer adventures with the family camper in tow.

Nancy always knew that she wanted to spend her career as an educator. At the University of California at Davis, where she met Ken, she majored in English and obtained her teaching credentials. Later, after her sons, Paul and Brian, were born she earned a master’s in education from Arizona State University. She taught children of all ages, but frequently said that she most enjoyed teaching fourth graders. Nancy also found great pleasure in a teaching position that entailed driving a mobile art classroom to students in schools of all means throughout Mesa, Arizona.

In the summers, Nancy taught a basket weaving class at a ranch in the northern New Mexico desert. She, Ken and her sons spent at least a week there every year for years. These trips captured Nancy’s love for both the arts and the outdoors. The whole family developed a lifelong connection with the area. Her son Brian chose to live nearby after finishing college and now lives in Albuquerque.

Nancy carried the appreciation her parents taught her for the outdoors forward to her sons. She and Ken planned family trips around long hikes and Paul and Brian spent more time in tents growing up than they did in hotel rooms.

After retiring from teaching, Nancy supported her husband Ken’s career in academic administration, most recently in his role as president of Lamar University. As first lady of Lamar, Nancy transformed buildings and open spaces on campus through her efforts to advance public art. She also fostered constructive dialogue on complex issues in the salon she founded in her campus home. These projects reflect both her creativity and commitment to strengthening community connections.

Nancy devoted much of the rest of her time in retirement to her numerous passions: quilting, water color painting, literature, gardening, and music. Many of Nancy’s closest friends shared one of these passions with her. The quilts and watercolors she created decorate her home and those of her sons. In addition to the backyards of the homes she lived in, the Lamar campus benefited from her skill as a master gardener. On her frequent trips to visit her son Paul and her grandchildren in St. Louis, she loved walking through the Missouri Botanical Garden.

An avid reader, Nancy always had a book close at hand and read every word written by many of her favorite authors. She continually sought out the latest musical acts and the stereo in her home was typically tuned to her most recent find. She continued to attend live music performances up through the final weeks of her life.

Above all else, Nancy loved her family. She is survived by her husband Ken Evans, her sisters Charlene Simmons and Jenna Caplette, her son Paul and her daughter-in-law Ellie Evans, her son Brian Evans and her future daughter-in-law Jess Pehr, and her three grandchildren, Thomas, Marion, and Peter, who were the joy of her life. She is and will be missed.

Memorial contributions can be directed to the Women and Philanthropy program Nancy founded at Lamar via the Lamar University Development Office at P.O. Box 11500, Beaumont, Texas 77710 or online at