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Old scout wins Masonic honor

Roy Evans will be honored next Wednesday for his decades of Boy Scout leadership on Whidbey Island. - Cynthia Woolbright
Roy Evans will be honored next Wednesday for his decades of Boy Scout leadership on Whidbey Island.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright

Oak Harbor resident Roy Evans, 93, has spent a lifetime living under one of the toughest laws around: The Boy Scout Law.

What other law has you respecting everyone from God to country, enforcing that you obey your mother, requiring you be thrifty, brave and clean, and also remember to “do a good turn” every day?

A tough law to follow, but for Evans, a long-time troop leader of Oak Harbor’s Boy Scout Troop 59 and member of the Whidby Island Masonic Lodge, the Boy Scout Law’s 12 points are gladly obeyed.

During a ceremony May 7, Evans will receive the Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award for his years of doing good deeds and instilling in young boys that they do the same. The Daniel Carter Beard Award is authorized by Boy Scouts of America to be awarded to a worthy Mason who is an active Scout leader. It was named for the man who inspired Lord Baden-Powell to found the Boy Scouts of America, and who later became the first National Commissioner of the newly founded BSA.

“Never being a scout myself, just a leader, this award is wonderful,” Evans is quick to point out.

At 93, almost 94 (his birthday is May 20) Evans is a slight man who loves to tell stories of his numerous scout outings just as if he were still sitting with the boys around the campfire. He has an adventuresome spirit that is now tamed by a doctor’s order not to climb too many steps, or walk too long at a time. This is disappointing for the once very active Mason and Scout leader, but in the true scouting way he’s cheerful that one day he will again be able to see old friends and frequent Masonic meetings.

Forty years

of leadership

During the nearly 40 years, beginning in the early 1950s, that he was an active leader with Troop 59, Evans helped guide 83 boys to the rank of Eagle Scout and bring 81 men into Freemasonry. Nine of the boys received their Eagle Scout at one time, which is a feat that would make any a troop leader proud.

“To have so many means there was one heck of a program here, and that’s a testament to him, his leadership, and the support system of the local program,” said Al Bartlett, current Island District Boy Scouts director.

Evans is a National Presidents Scoutmaster Award of Merit recipient, the first for the Pacific Northwest to receive that honor. Through the years he has also been honored with numerous service organization awards as well as being named Oak Harbor Man of the Year.

Bartlett has worked with Evans as an assistant scout master for the Evans-led High Adventures, and has witnessed the contributions of the man who worked as an active troop leader through his 70s.

“He’s touched a whole lot of lives. He may be small in stature, but he’s big in heart and leaves a legacy that you can do anything your heart and mind says you can do,” Bartlett said.

Evans is now an honorary member of Mt. Baker Boy Scout Council’s

Advisory Committee which calls him “when they’ve got a tough issue,” he said. He also keeps in touch with former scouts such as Oak Harbor resident Doug Shepard.

Two years ago, Shepard, the former director of the Island County Trails Council, named a trail half-mile trail after his troop leader Roy Evans. The day of its naming ceremony Evans came out and walked the trail near Kettles Park.

“He had a great time. And it’s hard not to admire a man his age who still tries to go out and hike,” Shepard said.

Geocachers on the island will soon be able to find a cache called “Roy’s 94,” but don’t look for it until after May 20. The cache won’t be revealed until after Roy finds it himself on his birthday.

Years spent in wilderness

Evans began his wilderness adventures immediately following high school in the 1920s. He worked with the U.S. Forest Service as a horsepacker for 15 years, and his thousands of miles trekked have included a haul of the materials used to build the Park Butte Lookout, which is still in existence today. He worked in what is now Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, helping to carry in materials and supplies to crews who built lookouts, bridges and shelters.

This was before the dams were built and Baker Lake filled, before automobiles overtook the roadways, and when the great outdoors could truly be considered a wild experience.

“It was my years of experience on the trails that helped put me in charge of planning the High Adventure outings we hiked every year,” Evans said.

Hershel Johnson has known Evans for over 50 years and is a fellow Mason. He shares some of those adventure stories that took place in the wilds of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest and on the Pacific Crest Trail that stretches from Canada to Mexico. Johnson was an assistant leader for Troop 59, and it was Johnson who researched the Carter Beard Award and nominated his good friend.

Evans has worked in Civil Service positions at several Puget Sound naval bases, including Sandpoint, Bremerton and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. And remembers being one of only non-Navy people in the troop.

“The boys had fathers who were in the Navy, so they were already

pretty prepared before I even taught them anything,” Evans said. Roy Evans can tell you wild stories of food drops gone awry. He remembers the countless miles he’s trekked and lakes he and his scouts stopped at to “do a good turn” and clean up litter. There’s many a hiking story embedded in his memory, and countless that he’s shared with over 900 Boy Scouts through his decades of service. Wednesday, May 7, Whidby Island Masonic Lodge No. 15 will honor him. They invite all former scouts to attend and do the same.

Join the ceremony

Roy Evans, 93, will receive the Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, at the Elks Lodge.

The community is invited, especially Scouts formerly under Evan’s leadership, to help honor his years of selfless service.

To RSVP, call Hershel Johnson at 675-4652.

You can reach Whidbey News-Times contributing writer Cynthia Woolbright at cwoolbright@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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