James H. Evans

June 26, 1920 - May 11, 2015
James H. Evans, June 26, 1920 - May 11, 2015

James Hurlburt Evans, who had a long and distinguished career in business management with the Union Pacific Corporation, the Seamen’s Bank for Savings, and Dun and Bradstreet, died on May 11 after a brief illness. Mr. Evans, a resident of East Hampton and New York City, was 94.

He was “a brilliant, cultured, charismatic man with a charming personality and generous spirit,” his family wrote.

Mr. Evans was born on June 26, 1920, in Lansing, Mich., to James Lafayette Evans and the former Mary Hurlburt. He spent his later childhood years in Louisville, Ky.

After serving from 1943 to 1946 as a lieutenant in the Navy, Mr. Evans began working as an attorney and loan officer at Harris Trust and Savings Bank in Chicago. He moved to New York in 1957, and in 1986 became a part-time resident of East Hampton, where he loved swimming in the ocean and walking on the beaches.

After his tenure at Harris Trust and Savings, Mr. Evans, who earned degrees from Centre College and the University of Chicago Law School, began ascending the ranks in business management. He served as secretary-treasurer, general counsel, and, later, vice president at the Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation, which eventually merged with Dun and Bradstreet. There he worked as financial vice president and director.

He then joined the Seamen’s Bank, where he served first as president and then as chairman and president. In 1965, he joined Union Pacific Railroad Company as a member of the board of directors. When Union Pacific Corporation was formed in 1969, Mr. Evans became president and a director. He served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer from 1977 until his retirement in 1985. He was also a director at the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the Anaconda Company, Bristol-Myers Company, Citicorp/Citibank, General Motors Corporation, and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

Mr. Evans was a former co-chairman at the Business Roundtable, a former member of the Business Council, and a life trustee and former chairman of the Central Park Conservancy. He also served on the governing boards of New York Presbyterian Hospital, the University of Chicago, Centre College, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He was a member of the Board of Governors and former National Fund chairman at the American National Red Cross, and was also involved with the President’s Committee on Environmental Quality and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. He was the founding chairman and a life trustee of the National Recreation and Park Association.

Mr. Evans was a member of the Maidstone Club in East Hampton, and of New York City’s Knickerbocker Club and Racquet and Tennis Club, and Washington, D.C.’s Alfalfa Club and Metropolitan Club.

His wife of more than 30 years, Mary Johnston Evans, died before him, as did a son, Eric Evans, a grandson, and two sisters, Blanche Goetzman and Kathryn Evans.

Mr. Evans is survived by his daughters Carol Evans Jepperson of Salt Lake City and Joan Evans Madsen of Maui, Hawaii, a stepdaughter, Marcy Head Benson of Denver, and by two stepsons, Paul Johnston Head of North Carolina and Eric Talbott Head of Denver. He also leaves four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and his assistant, Kathleen Noonan Roskell of Rockville Centre, who worked for him for nearly 50 years.

A memorial service was held on May 20 at Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. Contributions in his memory have been suggested to the Central Park Conservancy at 14 East 60th Street, New York 10022.