By Ray Kogovsek
In the current era of divisive and downright nasty politics, it’s a pleasure and a delightful reminiscence to think of Frank E. Evans, Third Congressional District representative for 14 years.
And how I think of him in essential terms is that Frank Evans was both a gentleman and a gentle man.
It’s clear that Frank, who passed away on June 3, was an effective politician, first as a state representative of his hometown, Pueblo, then in the U.S. Congress. He cared deeply about Pueblo, whether he was minding its interests from the Colorado Statehouse, or, on a larger scale, the interests of the nation’s eighth-largest congressional district, from Utah to Kansas, and from New Mexico north.
He worked for and gained respect in the halls of congress, holding a seat on the House Appropriations Committee during his stay in D.C., and being involved with projects that were important not only to his hometown but to the State of Colorado. He was among the representatives who saw the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project come to fruition, and played a role in bringing the Transportation Test Center to his hometown. His function in creating the payment-in-lieu of taxes refunds to counties was large.
And his own personal stamp was impressed on a facility, located just east of Pueblo, that soon will bear his name in gratitude and recognition: The four-decade-old Federal Citizen Information Center, a function of the Government Printing Office. The facility will be re-named “Congressman Frank Evans Government Printing Office Distribution Center.”
Frank was an attorney, but he loved the political game and the profession; he served honorably in a way that all of us who remember him recall fondly: his willingness to give time and interest to people from his several constituencies — farmers, ranchers, city dwellers, steel mill workers. These people, representing a wide variety of ethnicities, were Frank’s people, whom he served with both dedication and determination. This man, who never lost an election, was patient and generous with his time and energy as he lived out that tortuous routine: D.C. through most of the week, then back to the far-flung district for weekends.
And throughout all those person-to-person contacts, Frank always managed a smile, one that I cannot help but believe was sincere and honest: Frank loved his people, from Grand Junction to Granada, from Pueblo to Paonia.
I followed Frank Evans into congress; I came to know both the people for whom he worked and, in D.C., with whom he worked. The bottom line for those constituents and for those colleagues was that Frank Evans was a statesman and a dignified representative from Colorado, one who treated all people with care and respect.
He was, as I said at the beginning, both a gentleman and a gentle man.
What can I say, in closing, to honor my predecessor that rings more true than, “Good work, Frank. Thank you.”
Ray Kogovsek, Democrat from Pueblo, served in Congress from the Third Congressional District from 1979-1985.