'Locomotive' of a Squamish man dies

Beloved Don Evans died while on vacation in Peru on May 20

There's no question he made an impact on his community.

Many in Squamish are mourning the sudden death of Don Evans over the long weekend.

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Evans, 71, died on May 20, while on vacation in Peru with his wife, Deb, according to several sources who knew him.

In addition to many other contributions, he is best known by many locally for his efforts at railway preservation.

He was the current chair of the board of directors of the West Coast Railway Heritage Association.

He was previously named the president emeritus of the Association and a director of the Association of Tourist Railways and Railway Museums.

"Don has been the face of WCRA since its inception, " Bob Philip, president and CEO of the park said in a Facebook post. "Over the years, Don helped raise significant sums of money for the association through donations and government grants and more recently was instrumental in the acquisition of the MP2 maintenance shops adjacent to the park in Squamish."

HIstorian Eric Andersen, who is also a municipal councillor, told The Chief he knew and admired Evans best as a fellow heritage worker and advocate.

"As [the] ‘locomotive’ behind the Railway Heritage Park, Don was a leader within the wider heritage community," Andersen said in an email to The Chief.

"The Forestry Centre Society has carefully preserved notes of Don’s advice so generously given to us years ago when our own interpretive facility venture began. His long term, big picture thinking and planning was always an inspiration to the rest of us, in heritage projects and in other community organizations."

Evans was also active in Rotary for more than 33 years and was remembered on the Rotary International District 5040 Facebook page where it was said he had been awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Caring Canadian Award in 2016.

He was named Rotarian of the Year for District 5040 in 2014 and served as governor for 2017 to 2018.

Bianca Peters, who spoke of Evans on behalf of the Squamish Historical Society, said members of the organization were deeply saddened by the news of his death.

"Our organization worked with Don over the years in his capacity with the West Coast Railway Heritage Park and the Rotary Club.  Don was a true leader and visionary. He created inspiring plans, was an impressive fundraiser and brought his visions to life. He was a supportive mentor figure who used a firm yet caring hand," she said.

"The railway community is fortunate to have had Don at the helm of the West Coast Railway Association for so many years guiding the organization from a 12-acre pile of dirt to an international destination and home to the second largest collection of vintage locomotives in Canada including the Royal Hudson steam engine."

Peters added Evans helped the historical society with a location to display artifacts and supported past Squamish cultural and heritage festivals as well as other local and regional events.

In his earlier years, Evans graduated from Harvard Business School and spent 31 years in the telecommunications industry, according to the Rotary post by Chris Offer.

Celebration of life details are not known at this time.

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