Funeral services for Joe Paul Evans, West Plains, Missouri, will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, August 25, 2012, at the West Plains Civic Center Theater under the direction of Robertson-Drago Funeral Home.
Mayor Joe Paul Evans, the son of Joe Ray and Vivian Lucy Harrison Evans, was born on November 25, 1930 at West Plains, Missouri. He entered into eternal rest on August 18, 2012 at the age of eighty-one years. His parents, wife, and one son, Gary, preceded him in death.
He is survived by three children: Dr. Randall Evans, West Plains, Missouri; Dr. Susan Barger, husband, Charles, Lexington, Virginia; and The Honorable David Evans, wife, Sandy, West Plains, Missouri; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Kristin Bunnell, husband, David, and their children David O. and Harper Kay; Evans Wittenberg, Aaron Evans, Anna Wittenberg, Matthew Evans, and David A. Evans; one brother: Captain Steven Evans, wife, Kathryn, West Plains, Missouri; brother-in-law Charles Stein, wife, Patty, Springfield, Missouri; sister-in-law Deana Gleghorn, husband, Robert, West Plains, Missouri; several nieces and nephews; and many good friends.
Joe lived a good life. Growing up in the family home on Grace Avenue in West Plains, Joe loved, respected, and admired his parents, and brother Steve, and was loved deeply in return. His father, Joe Ray, was his son’s lifetime hero. His dad’s inner strength, integrity, and strong work ethic served as a guiding light to his son his entire life.
On March 12, 1949, Joe married his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, Helen Marie Stein. Joe and Helen “secretly” eloped to Salem, Arkansas, but were surprised to learn when they returned that the entire school and their parents had already learned of their secret. Helen was the joy of his life, and her death in 2010 left a void in his heart. He looked forward to the day that he and Helen would be together again.
Joe was a strong Christian, and an active lifetime member of the First United Methodist Church of West Plains, serving his church and faith in many ways including volunteering as chairman of the Board of Trustees for many years. His family is comforted in knowing that Joe and Helen are together again with their parents, son, and their Lord.
Over his lifetime, Joe had many careers. He was a businessman, owning and operating men’s clothing stores (including Evans Mens and Boys Wear) for over 30 years. He also worked as a Regional Economic Development Specialist and later as Development Director for the City of West Plains and Chamber of Commerce. He worked countless hours over the years to bring to and expand many businesses in the West Plains area, including Marathon Electric, Arlee Home Fashions, DRS, and Caterpillar, and helped bring and develop the industrial park at Pomona.
Joe dedicated his life to helping others. He gave over six decades of service to his community and to West Plains – the town and people he loved. He served as Mayor for the City of West Plains from 1999 until his death. Perhaps no other mayor has been nor will be remembered as he will for heartfelt passion and commitment to the job.
He and many other leaders campaigned for and supported creation of the West Plains Civic Center, expansion of parks and recreation, including Galloway Park, street and highway improvements, and was a strong supporter of the police and fire departments. He also dedicated his life to creation and growth of the Missouri State University campus, and expansion of the Ozarks Medical Center hospital.
His warm smile, positive attitude, and welcoming manner made Joe special to so many people. He was always one of the first to extend a welcoming hand of friendship to visitors and new neighbors in the community.
Joe also volunteered for many years in leadership roles with the West Plains Lions Club, the West Plains Rotary Club, the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine, and Chamber of Commerce.
He was active in the Boy Scout and Little League programs, and served as coach and leader for generations of kids. He was active in sports, sponsoring and coaching men’s softball teams, as well as enjoying bowling – partnering in building a new bowling alley in the 1960s.
For his life of service, Joe has been recognized with the Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2010 Missouri State University Granvil Vaughan Award, where he was described as West Plains’ “biggest cheerleader.”
Joe was most proud of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He loved spending time with his family and was loved and respected in return. When asked by his grandson what he would do with his life if given another chance, he laughed and said, “I wouldn’t change a thing, I have lived the best life I could hope for.” Joe will be missed, but will never be forgotten.
Mr. Evans will lie in state from 12:00 Noon until 9:00 p.m., Friday, August 24, 2012 at Robertson-Drago Funeral Home. Memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church; to the Friends of Galloway Park or to the Boys and Girls Club both through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and may be left at Robertson-Drago Funeral Home.