Southwestern Christian College patriarch Dr. Jack Evans Sr., one of the longest-serving presidents in U.S. higher education history, died Nov. 1, 2019, following a lengthy illness.
Born in Houston, Texas, he was one of a small number of talented gospel preachers who studied under legendary Church of Christ evangelist Marshall Keeble at Nashville (Tennessee) Christian Institute. After graduation, he enrolled at Southwestern, where he earned an associate’s degree in 1959, a bachelor’s degree in history and religion from Eastern New Mexico University in 1961 and a master’s degree in 1963 from The University of Texas at El Paso. He served as minister of the Cebada Street Church of Christ while attending UTEP.
After ministering briefly with the Vickery Boulevard Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, he began work at his alma mater in 1963 as dean and history instructor. Four years later, he became the first black president of SwCC and served in that role for nearly 50 years before retiring in 2016 as president emeritus. His leadership helped Southwestern earn full accreditation as a junior college in 1973, and it began offering bachelor’s degrees in Bible and religious education in 1982.
“Basically described, Dr. Jack Evans was Southwestern Christian College. That fine institution is here today because of the remarkable and tireless efforts of this man,” said ACU chancellor Dr. Royce Money (’64). “His tenure of service is unmatched as president of a Christian college, as is his passion for providing an education to everyone who desired it. We thank God for his life of ministry.”
Evans was a dynamic preacher and popular public speaker, headlining Crusade for Christ events in major cities and in gospel meetings around the nation. He was a keynote lecturer at ACU’s Bible Lectureship (now known as Summit) in 1970, 1979, 1982, 1983 and 1989, and delivered the May Commencement address in 1970.
He received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Harding University, Pepperdine University, and ACU (1984).
“Dr. Jack Evans was a man who possessed a first-rate intellect, a commanding presence, and the impressive voice of a prophetic orator. His fearless courage to speak his mind on matters of great importance has left a lasting impression on the memories of those who knew him,” said Dr. Jerry Taylor, associate professor of Bible, missions and ministry, and founding director of the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action.
“He mentored many young preachers with an extraordinary ability to love as a brother, to entreat as a friend, and to correct as a father,” Taylor added. “He will be terribly missed, but the impact of his spirit upon the lives he touched in countless churches will – like his mentor, Marshall Keeble – endure for generations.”
Among books Evans authored were Sermons That Save and Sermons of the Crusades.
He married Patricia Officer in 1959, and she served alongside him on the faculty and staff at Southwestern Christian for 50 years. They were married 60 years when she died in May 2019.
Among survivors are his sons, Jack Evans Jr. (’83), Herbert Evans (’84) and David Evans; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
His memorial service will be Nov. 15, 2019, at 7 p.m. at Southwestern Christian (200 Bowser Circle, Terrell, Texas 75160), preceded by public visitation Nov. 14 (1-7 p.m. at Sacred Funeral Home, 1395 N. Highway 67, Cedar Hill, Texas 75104) and Nov. 15 (11 a.m. – 7 p.m. at SwCC), and followed by final viewing (9 a.m. to noon) and a Celebration of Life (noon) on Nov. 16 at SwCC.
— Ron Hadfield
Nov. 11, 2019