Wendell Oscar Evanson, Henderson State University Professor of Music and Director of Bands Emeritus, passed away November 3, 2020, from natural causes. He was born March 28, 1927, in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, the son of Rev. Oscar Julian Evanson and Elizabeth Webb Evanson.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Dr. Lydia Duckett Evanson, his daughter, Lori Christina Evanson Adams (John), son, Dr. Kirk Wendell Evanson (Lucy), grandson, Jonah Kirk Evanson, and granddaughter, Tess Carol Evanson. He is also survived by nieces, Susie Wehrenberg, Mary Moon, and nephew, Ron Baker.
Professor Evanson attended the public schools of Kingfisher, OK, where he began study of the euphonium. A Methodist preacher’s kid, he later moved to Muskogee, where he continued his involvement in band as a trombone player. In 1942, Wendell entered high school in Sapulpa, where he excelled in band, sang in choir (his all state choir clinician was Robert Shaw), acted in school plays, and played basketball and football (much to his mother’s chagrin). At his graduation ceremony in 1945, his father accepted his diploma, as Wendell had to report for basic training in the Army Air Force.
During the last months of World War II, Wendell worked as a cryptographer at Langley Air Force base. He was discharged as a Cpl. in 1946, and with the GI bill he entered the University of Arkansas. After a short tenure there, he transferred to Hendrix College, as a music major, graduating in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. His first high school teaching position was at Smackover, Arkansas, followed by Conway.
In 1958, Wendell Evanson became band director at Henderson State University, where he remained for 30 productive years. In 1967, he established the Henderson State Band Camp, which through the years helped train 1000’s of young wind and percussion players. His Henderson bands grew from 30 players in 1958 to over 100 players when he retired in 1987. His Henderson Bands performed at the MENC regional music conference and the College Band Directors regional conference.
In 1993, Mr. Evanson became founding conductor of the Little Rock Wind Symphony, retiring from the position in 2005.
Through the years, Wendell remained close to his former students, and always encouraged and advised them in their professional careers. He rejoiced in their successes always. He was honored by his peers as Arkansas Bandmaster of the Year (1980) and in 1983, he was elected to membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association.
Wendell loved his family. He treated his wife, Lydia, like a queen, always encouraging her in her career aspirations. He waited a very long time for his children, Lori and Kirk, but was always a hands on type of Dad. They both understood they always had their Dad’s unwavering support and love. When Kirk presented Lucy, to join the Evanson family, followed by Jonah and Tess, life was wonderful. When Lori welcomed husband, John to the family, life was even more complete and the best ever.
Funeral Service will be 11:00AM Thursday, November 5, 2020 at First United Methodist Church in Arkadelphia. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Burial to follow service at Rest Haven Memorial Gardens.
Due to covid-19: face coverings and social distancing is required.
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