Aug. 20, 1930 – Feb. 6, 2013
James W. Evans, an Episcopal priest who was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, died Wednesday at his home in North Buffalo as a result of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 82.
Born in St. Louis, he attended Princeton University, where he sang in the Chapel Choir and performed with various campus musical groups. He graduated from the University of Missouri and enlisted in the Army after having served in the Naval ROTC while attending college.
Rev. Evans attended the Church Divinity School of the Pacific before filling his first church post in rural eastern Missouri.
He went on to become a Freedom Rider, part of a group of civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated South in 1961, for which he was jailed for several days in Jackson, Miss. His Freedom Rider group of Episcopal priests was featured in national news magazines of the time.
Rev. Evans subsequently served in parishes in St. Louis and Champaign, Ill.
He and his wife of 56 years, the former Margaret Bolsterli, founded an art-based retreat center on Washington Island, Wis. The couple moved to Buffalo about 20 years ago to be near their children and grandchildren. Rev. Evans also served as a priest at Ascension Episcopal Church and at several other parishes in the Buffalo Diocese before his retirement in 2005.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Stephen; and a daughter, Elizabeth Evans Sachs.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. March 2 in St. John’s Grace Episcopal Church, 51 Colonial Circle.