James W. Evans

James W. Evans

James W. Evans, Madison, Wisconsin, passed away on August 21, 2019, at the age of 72 in Madison, from complications related to pancreatic cancer.

James was born in Ithaca, New York, on May 13, 1947, to James B. and Evelyn C. Evans. The family moved to Chicago Heights, Illinois, when he was very young. James attended elementary school there and middle and high school in Raleigh, NC, where the family later moved. He earned a B.S. degree from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, in 1969 and M.S. and PhD degrees from North Carolina State University in Statistics in 1971 and in 1974.

James taught at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, for one year beginning in 1974 and then at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, from 1975 to 1980. In 1980, he moved to Madison to work as a Mathematical Statistician at the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL). At FPL, James conducted mathematical research and supported various wood research efforts including the development of assigned engineering properties for lumber grades of softwood species. His awards while working for the USDA Forest Service included a USDA Superior Service Award, a USDA Superior Science Award and an EPA STAR (Scientific and Technology Achievement Rewards) award.

James married Jane Kiser from Lebanon, Virginia, in 1969. They had met at a church retreat center in the North Carolina mountains in 1966. They had two children, son James T. born in 1975 and daughter Virginia born in 1979. James was a lifetime fan of the Chicago Cubs, having gone to Cubs games as a child with this father. He was thrilled to see the Cubs win the World Series in 2016. He was a faithful member of First Baptist Church in Madison where he co-taught a Bible Study class for many years. James loved sudoku puzzles, marshmallow peanuts, trains, trying new restaurants that provide gluten-free options on their menus, country music, keeping up with world events / political issues, cherry pie and playing games with his grandchildren. Teaching in general was a passion of his, as he enjoyed coaching a number of his children’s sports teams and teaching his children and co-workers calculus. He was a skilled chess player and occasionally wrote poetry. His goals, when diagnosed with cancer, were to spend time with his family, to continue working at FPL as long as he could and to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary. He achieved each of these.

James is survived by his wife Jane, son James T. (Karen), daughter Virginia, brother Timothy (Harriette), sister Martha, and 5 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Evelyn, and brother Charles.

Memorials are suggested to Wisconsin Public Television which he enjoyed watching with Jane.

A memorial service will be held at the First Baptist Church, 518 N. Franklin Ave., in Madison on October 5 at 2:00 pm, followed by a reception.