Recipient Biography

James H. Evans


James H. Evans (1920-2015) received the Pugsley Medal “in recognition of his contribution to negotiating the merger of five leisure organizations into a single association, the National Recreation and Park Association.” Evans attended high school Louisville, Kentucky, and received his B.A. from Centre College, Kentucky, in 1942. He served as a lieutenant in the US Navy in World War II and after the war, entered the University of Chicago Law School. He was editor of the Law Review and earned his J.D. in 1948.

After law school, he became attorney and loan officer at Harris Trust and Savings Bank in Chicago from 1948to 1956.His subsequent business career entailed moves to the Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation as vice-president and when Donnelley Corporation merged with Dun & Bradstreet Inc., Evans became vice-president of Dun and Bradstreet responsible for Moody's Investors Service and the Dun and Bradstreet Publications Corporation .In 1965,he became president of The Seaman's Bank for Savings, and later was chairman and chief executive officer of the Union Pacific Corporation.

Evans had become interested in the National Recreation Association (NRA) while serving on the NRA citizens committee in Chicago. He assumed a more active role in the affairs of the association upon his transfer to New York City as co-president of the Donnelley Corporation. He had been an active member of the association's executive committee, and his leadership and public relations skills had earned him the respect of his fellow directors. These qualities led to him becoming chair of the NRA board in 1960.

Evans was centrally involved in the three or four years of exploratory discussions and subsequent negotiations resulting in the NRA meeting with four other associations serving different elements of the parks and recreation field, to form a new entity, the National Recreation and Park Association, in 1965. His skill as a lawyer and as a businessman, and his experience in business mergers, were valuable assets in these negotiations. When the merger was completed, Laurance Rockefeller agreed to serve as the chairman of the board of trustees of the new organization to facilitate a smooth transition, but after a year as chair he prevailed upon Evans to take over that role.

In addition to his leadership role with NRPA, Evans' other involvements in civic affairs included chairman, 1965 Red Cross Campaign for Greater New York; member of the Planning Commission of Bronxsville, NY; and a trustee of Centre College, Kentucky. He served as local co-chair of the Special Gifts Committee of the Boy Scouts of America, (1958-59); chair of Publications of Bronxville PTA; board member of the Bronxville Community Fund, and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens. Evans was also a member of the President's Advisory Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty (later the President's Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality), and a Trustee of the American Youth Foundation. In 1985, he became chair of the 41-member board of the Central Park Conservancy, the private operating foundation established to raise funds and take responsibility for the maintenance of Central Park.

(September 14, 1965). New York Journal American.