2009 Don Evans Lifetime Service Deforest (Small).jpgThe Evans family of DeForest has been involved in wrestling ever since Don Evans went out for wrestling at Madison East High School in 1942. There was one brief interruption 1942 while Don served in the Navy during WWII. Amongst many other assignments, one of his duties during the war was to transport General MacArthur’s staff in vehicles on Yokohama for the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.
When the war was over, Don enrolled in the University of Wisconsin and wrestled for the Badgers in 1946-47. That was the beginning of the Evans’ affiliation with UW.
A generation later, Steve Evans, a two time WIAA state champion, passed up an appointment to the Naval Academy to wrestle at Wisconsin. In fact, Steve was Coach Duane Kleven’s first recruit at Wisconsin. Steve was a four year letterman for the Badgers.
A missed phone call was all that kept Steve’s older brother Dale from wrestling for the Badgers. However, he did wrestle for UW-Stout where he was the first ever four time WSUC Conference Champion. He was also a two time NAIA All-American and he continued to successfully compete in open tournaments until 1977.
From 1974-79, Dale served as an assistant coach for the Badgers. One of his duties as assistant coach was to be a workout partner for Wisconsin’s first national champion, Rick Lawinger.
As good as the Evanses were as competitors, their off-the-mat contributions to the sport are equally or even more impressive.
Don was the first president of the Wisconsin Weigh-In Club and has been a very generous donor to Wisconsin wrestling. Former Badger coach Duane Kleven said, “Whenever we had to have something, we knew who we could turn to.”
As an example, Kleven cites the 1973 match at the Field House between the Russian Olympic team and a team made up of Wisconsin Olympians and college standouts. “We had to have a $10,000 guarantee, and we didn’t have any money. Don Evans thought it was a worthwhile undertaking so he underwrote the whole thing.”
Because of the generosity of the Evans family, 9,000 fans got to see some of the greatest wrestlers in the world compete in Madison.
Following the match, the Evanses hosted the two teams at their 7E’s restaurant. This is the same restaurant that sponsored a wild game feed and auction every year to benefit UW wrestling. When Don moved to Reno, Steve continued the tradition.
Although the 7E’s has closed and Don moved to Reno, Dale and Steve continue to be actively involved in the wrestling community. Dale has been coaching wrestling-freestyle and Greco, high school, and middle school for 38 years. Dale has served as president of the Wisconsin Wrestling Federation and as a board member. He was also a freestyle and Greco official from 1973-1984.
Steve has also be coaching wrestling, primarily high school, for a number of years. Since 2006, he has been head coach of the Edgewood/Monona Grove team.
Both Dale and Steve have continued the family tradition of being very generous monetary donors to wrestling causes.
The Evans family success has not been limited to wrestling. In 1948, while still attending UW, Don Evans bought his first plastic injection molding press. That was the start of Evco Plastics. Evco Plastics now has 11 facilities and over 1,000 employees in three countries.
Dale is now president of Evco Plastics and Steve is on the Board of Directors for Evco Plastics.
On May 1, 2009, Don and Joan Evans celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. They raised five sons: Dale, Steve, Chris, Jim and Rick.
Dale and his wife Debbie, who also has some very impressive wrestling service credentials, live in DeForest with their two daughters, Katie and Anna.
Steve and his wife Julie live in Madison. They have three sons – Daniel, Paul and Ben.