Former Shippensburg University professor Margaret Evans lost her battle with cancer peacefully in her home on New Year’s Day. The calm and quiet nature of her passing was a stark contrast to her exotic and off-the-beaten path life.
A native of the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York, Evans joined the Peace Corps when she was 23 and lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After 16 months in Af- rica, Evans crossed cultures again by moving to Korea where she started showing her photography in galleries.
Her worldly knowledge and cultural experiences did not go unnoticed at SU.
“She was very culturally experienced,” said Masadul Biswas, assistant professor at SU. Biswas, a native of Bangladesh, and Evans taught together in the communication/journalism department.
“We were very good friends. She was very well-versed in India. Anytime she would give me greeting or holiday cards it would have some sort of tiger or bengals on it.”
Evans also assisted Biswas in finding a new home after he accepted his position at SU.
“She was an unofficial mentor for me,” he said, “I am very grateful to her.”
Biswas spoke to his students this semester about Evans and held a moment of silence for her in his diversity and the media class.
Evans’ main focus in the communication/journalism department was photography, one of her true passions.
After traveling the world and honing her craft as a photographer, Evans decided to pursue a career in early child- hood education at age 26. She earned her undergraduate degree at Goddard College before earning her master’s of fine art degree from Rochester Institute of Technology.
For most of her career, Evans focused on documentary-style photography. In the 1980s and 1990s she documented the decline of the steel industry in America and the textile industry in Poland.
Though photography was her main focus, she also dabbled in watercolor painting and jewelry-making.
After coming to Shippensburg in the late 1990s, Evans quickly became acclimated to the local art community. She has shown her work in various galleries across the area, including Shippensburg’s SHAPE Gallery, Carlisle Arts Learning Center (CALC) and the Art Association of Harrisburg. Evans avidly sup- ported SHAPE, where she once served as vice president, as well as The Thought Lot.
“Margaret and her husband were influential members of Shippensburg’s art community,” Steve Brenize, treasurer at The Thought Lot, said. “Margaret’s encouragement and actions have left a lasting imprint on our organization and other local art organizations.”
In addition to art and teaching, she was also passionate about animal rights. She would regularly put out food and water for homeless animals and took part in trap-neuter-release mis- sions around Shippensburg.
She was also an activist for women’s rights. In April 2013, she hosted a screen- ing of the documentary, “It’s a Girl,” which high- lighted the growing problem of gendercide worldwide. Evans is survived by her husband, Art, eight siblings, her cats, Smoke, Tux and Tess and countless friends and supporters in the community.
Gail Culbertson, a close friend and fellow staple in the local art community, helped take care of Evans in her final days.
“She put color in my all too black-and-white perspective on life,” Culbertson said. “There is a word in Portuguese for these times, ‘saudade.’ There is no single word in English for saudade. It’s the longing I feel for what is missing but it is also the com- fort of the love that remains.”