Artist, activist Gordon Evans remembered for his passions

Gordon and Betty Evans

Gordon and Betty Evans. Photo by Hanson Studios

For over 50 years Gordon Evans sculpted and painted in the studio behind the Valley Park Drive home that he and his wife purchased shortly after World War II. Evans died Saturday, March 20, following a short illness. He was 83.

He and his wife Betty met at Dorsey High and married in 1946, after he returned from the war in the South Pacific. The couple moved to Paris for several years so Gordon could study art, and then returned to Hermosa, where Betty had grown up.

Evans devoted himself to painting and sculpture after retiring from Aerospace Corporation, where he was a technical illustrator. His two daughters, Suzanne and Jeanne also became artists.

Dorsey High classmate and lifelong friend Les Guthrie recalled Evans as passionate about art and cantankerous about everything else, even in his youth. “He’d argue nearly to the death, and if it looked like he was losing, he’d say, ‘What do I know, I’m just an artist.’”

Evans was an avid waterman through much of his life, a passion that led his son Bob to found Force Fins, a company that manufacturers swim fins used by competitive body surfers and marine military forces, world wide. But Evans stopped going in the ocean after becoming convinced it was polluted. He was a fitness buff before fitness was popular, and bicycled regularly to his Aerospace Corporation job in El Segundo. But he never stopped railing against discourteous drivers and blamed his thinning hair on the auto fumes he inhaled over the decades.

Upon retirement, he devoted himself to sculpting bronze busts of his friends, at no cost. But one of those friends had to settle for a clay bust, painted a faux marble green. When the disappointed friend asked Evans why he hadn’t gotten a bronzed bust, Evans answered, “You didn’t care enough to show up half the time to model. I didn’t care enough to bronze it.”

Evans’ wife Betty authored nearly a dozen cookbooks, most of which her husband illustrated with simple, but skillfully executed line drawings.

Evans’ passions extended to his community. He frequently addressed the city council on issues that would impact his tightly knit valley neighborhood. City council minutes reflect his support for a neighborhood stop sign, and his strong objection to a hillside development behind his home and a new gym at Hermosa Valley school.

Evans was preceded in death by his wife Betty. He is survived by his son Bob, daughters Suzanne and Jeanne, and grandchildren Alex, Gordon, Zachery and Evelyn. At his request there will be no memorial service.


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