August 2, 1940 - June 28, 2016
Gerald "Jerry" Evans, a good friend, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin and exceptional competitor, passed July 28, 2016, at his home, surrounded by loved ones after a brief illness.
Jerry was born Aug. 2, 1940, in Allakaket, to the late Wilfred and Catherine (Pitka) Evans. When he was 9, his father moved him to Evansville. As a child on the Koyukuk River, he used a surfboard to build his first boat.
Jerry attended elementary school in Wrangell Institute and high school at Mt. Edgecumbe High School (class of 1961). He excelled at athletics, including shotput, track, high jump, and was considered a star basketball player. After high school, Jerry attended electronic technician school at RCA in Los Angeles, where Morris Thompson and Thelma Mayo introduced him to his future wife, Madrene McDonald. After graduating from RCA, he returned to Fairbanks to find a job and a home. He and Madrene were married in Las Vegas on July 7, 1964. They made their home in Fairbanks. They had two daughters they loved with all their heart; Jeanie and Asa. He became a grandfather for the first time to baby Mia Catherine on July 16, 2016
He was a talented electronic technician, race boat builder/racer, outboard mechanic, snowmachine racer, athlete and mechanical genius. He retired from the NASA Gilmore Tracking Station in 1986. His daughter, Jeanie, followed in his footsteps and earned her electronic technician degree just because she was impressed by the gadgets at his job site.
Jerry won the Yukon 800 twice (1974 in Miss Hotsy and 1976 in Lindsay Softwater). His design of the first "Star Wars" boat is still in use today. One year after he retired from racing, he was at Pike's Landing watching the start of the Yukon 800 and noticed all the boats were the "Star Wars" design and most of the outboard motors were rebuilt by him. He laughingly said, "I feel like I'm racing against myself!"
If boats were his first passion, snowmachines were his second. In Evansville, he and his brother, Junior, built a prototype snogo using an old motor and a pair of downhill skiis. Jerry went on to compete in numerous snowmachine races throughout Alaska and Canada. He raced in theMidnight Sun 600, the precursor to the Iron Dog snowmachine race. Jerry also raced in the North American snowmachine race and won three years in a row.
He made many long-distance snowmachine trips throughout the Interior, visiting family and friends. After Jerry retired from snowmachine racing, he entered the Nenana-Fairbanks race and came in second place, blowing all the young bucks off the trail.
One of his favorite things to do at South Fork was play King of the Hill, highmarking a mountain. He was always up to a challenge whether on snow or water. Jerry waterskied from Fairbanks to Nenana racing against Dennis Troxell. Dennis was faster but gave up and sat on a riverbank. John Bergamaschi pulled Jerry right on by Dennis - Jerry may have been slower but he had more endurance.
Jerry also created a houseboat design that became very popular in Fairbanks in the 1970s and 1980s.
Jerry was also a well-known musician, playing with various bands and friends. He was an outdoorsman and enjoyed spending time at his South Fork cabin with his daughters, Jeanie (Daryl) and Asa, family, friends and his hunting buddies.
Jerry is survived by his daughters, Jeanie (Daryl) and Asa (Louvain); granddaughter Mia Catherine; sisters Jean Stevens and Marian VanHorne; nephews John, Gary, Robert and Bill; and nieces Myrtle, Catherine Lucy, Alisa, Sheryl Marie, Nicole, Catherine, Debbie, Barbara, Brenda, Sheryl Dee and Katherine. He is also survived by his close cousins, Emmitt Evans, Dick Evans, Johnny "the Black" Evans, John "the Red" Evans and Leroy Evans, of Utah. He leaves behind numerous relatives and a multitude of very close friends he considered family.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Wilfred and Catherine; his wife, Madrene; brothers John, Andrew, Junior and Ralph; sisters Millicent, Myrtle and Josephine; and cousin Alan Evans.
In all of his endeavors, Jerry proved to be a very tough competitor. He always seemed to be the one to beat. Being a dad was the most important thing in his life. Rest in peace, Captain No. 44.
Services will be held from 1-3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the David Salmon Tribal Hall. A celebration of life potluck will follow at 5 p.m. at the Boatel Bar. At a later date, Jerry's ashes will be placed at locations that were important to him in his life.
Condolences may be sent to Jeanie Evans, No. 5 Eleanor Ave., Fairbanks, AK 99701