Renowned Ruston pastor donates autobiography to Louisiana Tech

Jan 20, 2011 | Liberal Arts

James Oliver Evans, former pastor of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Ruston and a 1949 alumnus of Louisiana Tech University, has donated a copy of his autobiography titled, “Called to Serve: Memoirs of James O. Evans – My Life’s Journey” to Louisiana Tech’s Prescott Memorial Library. Evans’ autobiography, which chronicles his life from 1925 through 2010 and includes stories about the vast history of Louisiana and its people, was presented to the Library’s Special Collections staff during a reception on Thursday. “The role of Louisiana Tech’s Special Collections is to acquire, preserve and provide access to materials relating to the history of north Louisiana and Louisiana Tech University,” said Peggy Carter, director of Louisiana Tech’s Special Collections.  “The memoirs of James Evans will be a welcome addition.” Marilyn Whitley, daughter of Evans, said that her father has maintained strong ties to Ruston, where he was born and grew up, and still lives on the farmland that has belonged to his ancestors since the 1800s.  Since 1988, he has planted and maintained Evans Eden Fruit Farm at that location.  Evans’ family, who attended Wesley Chapel Church, were settlers, farmers, and businessmen in the Ruston area.  Many of his relatives still live in the area and continue to make significant contributions to the community. The autobiography describes how, as a teenager, Evans passed through the Tech campus delivering milk and newspapers, but never dreamed that he would have an opportunity to attend college there.  The GI Bill and Louisiana Tech, however, provided him with a chance to break a cycle of poverty in his family created by the Great Depression. Along with his wife, Dorothy, Evans graduated from Louisiana Tech, which gave him opportunities for life-long learning and service which he continues today.  Following service in communities such as Mangham, Heflin, Monroe, Chalmette, Springhill, New Orleans and West Monroe, he served as the Pastor of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church from 1989 to 1992. Since his retirement, Evans has started a prison ministry program for young offenders in Louisiana and is one of the primary organizers and volunteer recruiters for Epiphany Ministry at Swanson Youth Center in Monroe. Evans’ autobiography can be viewed at Louisiana Tech’s Special Collections, located on the fourth floor of Prescott Memorial Library.