James and Rose Evans

James Evans

James (d. 1988) and his wife Rose Goodwin Evans (d. 1975) are the parents of All Souls member Evangeline Wells (d. 2022) and grandparents of Kristin Wells. Both were active in church; Rose was a New York University graduate and mathematics teacher who served on the All Souls Board in 1969 and the Canvass Committee.

Evans was a former professor at Howard University, who is credited with helping to politically and administratively integrate the armed forces in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s as the assistant civilian aide to the secretary of the Army. One tribute written about Evans’ legacy said, “The programs instituted under his direction are now an integral part of military culture: an integrated military establishment, sequential military education, recognition that one must be properly trained and educated for positions of responsibility and a strong cadre of black officers.”

Working quietly behind the scenes to initiate educational opportunities for all those who serve in the Department of Defense, Evans served under five Secretaries of War, ten secretaries of Defense, and six presidents of the United States.

Evans graduated from Roger Williams University in Tennessee and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He taught Air Force pilots at West Virginia State during the 1930s, where he chaired the engineering department and taught and mentored NASA’s “Hidden Figure” mathematician, Katharine G. Johnson. He also taught electrical engineering at Howard from 1948 to 1970 before retiring in 1970.

He was active in professional and social fraternities, held several directorships and trustee positions, and received numerous honorary degrees and awards.

Evans died of Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Washington. He was 87 years old.

“Johnson Appoints Negro As Advisor” (New York Times article, April 29, 1949)

MIT Black History article on James Evans

Memorandum on Racial Policy Statements of the Services, signed by James Evans (Harry S. Truman Library)

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