Evan Wilson

December  26th, 1939 May  19th, 2024
Austin, Texas
Evan Wilson

Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

The amazing life of Evan Wilson

Evan Wilson, an unlikely Texan on a John Ford scale, died May 19 at Avalon Memory Care in Cedar Park. He was 84. His decline into vascular dementia never diminished his joy in living, laughing, or thrilling at the sight of his wife of 37 years, Ann Hume Wilson of Austin.
     He was a grand adventurer. He lived what he loved and what he loved, he brought to life. He was a writer, sailor, civic activist, animal lover, ship modeler, and Army Intelligence officer. He so loved gospel blues that he founded a festival honoring Thomas A. Dorsey, the “Father of Gospel Music.”
     Wilson was born December 26, 1939, in West Palm Beach, Fla. He grew up in Washington D.C., attended St. Albans Preparatory School there, and later studied at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
     Serving as an Army Intelligence Officer in Bordeaux, France, in the early 1960s, he joked that “the best French intelligence is gathered at garden parties.” His strong, clear reporting on France’s early nuclear deterrence program (the Force de Frappe), rose to the attention of President Lyndon Johnson and earned a Letter of Commendation.
     In France, Wilson bought the first of seven Alfa Romeos he owned and raced in his bachelor days. He turned his passion for that 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint into a 1982 book, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, still essential among "Alfisti."
     In 1968, Evan worked with other activists at the Peace Action Center in Baltimore to design and produce a bimonthly "Peace and Freedom News," networking with publishers of other underground publications at an Iowa City conference.
     Later that year, during a turbulent time in Mexico, Wilson was appointed by Vice President Humphrey to head the U.S. delegation to the first-ever Cultural Olympiad, held in conjunction with the Mexico City Olympic Games. There he led the cultural exchange activities of young Americans participating in the Olympics World Youth Camp. When protests disrupted the camp following the famous “Black Power” salutes of 1968, he focused the young delegates on creating a manifesto for the rights of youth called the “Oaxtepec Declaration."
     Returning to Baltimore, Wilson wrote for the Baltimore Sun and worked for an urban renewal initiative called Model Urban Neighborhood Demonstration (MUND). At MUND, Evan recruited and trained community members to write and produce their own community newspaper. He also served as community field coordinator for the Baltimore Public School System.
     Gripped by the tragic sinking of Baltimore’s historic tall ship replica, Pride of Baltimore, he studied the questionable safety standards then in place for tall ships, and wrote a cover story for Oceans magazine that formed the basis for his second book, Epitaph for a Beautiful Ship.
     In the 1980s, Wilson took to the sea in his restored classic Norwegian folkboat, Leaf.  With his tabby cat Edith as his first mate, he spent two years sailing alone, exploring the coast from northern Maryland to Roanoke Island NC. He gloried in navigating the waters, sleeping below deck during a rainstorm, and living on fresh fish and the occasional cheeseburger in paradise.
     Wilson became Executive Director of the Oregon Inlet Users’ Association, a non-profit advocacy group for the commercial fishermen of the Outer Banks. As usual, his passion led to another book, Many Winters Waiting, the story of the legislative battles fought on behalf of the heritage family fishing communities of Pamlico Sound.
     On the Outer Banks he met his future wife, Ann Hume, and they married in 1987. When Ann became Marketing/PR Director of Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, the couple settled in Villa Rica, which Wilson soon learned was the birthplace of his favorite gospel blues songwriter, Thomas Dorsey. Finding little there to honor this milestone of Black History, Wilson proposed both a State Historic Marker and a concert to commemorate Dorsey, who had just died. These efforts led to the 1994 founding of the Thomas A. Dorsey Birthplace Choir and the Thomas A. Dorsey Gospel Heritage Festival in Villa Rica, celebrating its 30th anniversary this June 28-30.
During his tenure in Georgia, Wilson also wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In addition to a weekly history column titled “About the South,” he contributed essays for its popular “True South” feature. 
     Along with his wife, Ann, Evan is survived by countless individuals whom he counseled and encouraged during his 40 years of sober living.
     Evan Wilson was larger than life. His heart held interests as simple as fishing and as complex as global cultures. Many of the achievements here will surprise even friends who knew him for decades. That’s the purpose of this online memorial. Evan Wilson was a man worth knowing. He is a loss to all of us. 
     We invite you to help us remember him with your own recollections of Evan in the “Memories” section below. Attend his memorial service June 15 in Austin if you are able. Atlanta-area friends may wish to join Ann to celebrate his life at the 2024 Thomas A. Dorsey Gospel and Blues Festival in Villa Rica GA, June 28-30.



Memory wall

Post your condolences or share your Memories.

June 27, 2024
While passing a leaf blower on my morning walk, I laughed as I remembered that Evan used to think they were the noisiest and more unhelpful machines ever invented. Evan never did like loud machines and hated anything that disrupted the natural beauty of things. He was afraid with cutting lawns and shrubs that the animals who lived there would also be disturbed. Evan always had a special place in his heart for animals.
Alyssa Sloane
June 15, 2024
Evan was truly a force of nature. He thought,spoke,sailed and drove to his own tune... and it was always a happy tune! The first time I met Evan he explained to me  that he suffered from the condition of Pronoia which made him a Pronoiic. I told him how sorry I was and I did not know about this condition. He smiled real BIG and said, "it is the opposite of Paranoia. People with Paranoia have the unrealistic DELUSION that people are conspiring against them, while Pronoiic's have the unrealistic ILLUSION that people are saying good things about them and mean them well!" I laughed and wasn't sure if he was telling a great joke or was serious. He was serious. Evidently it is easy to love people when you believe they are all conspiring to do well by you and Evan could easily love everyone! He was incredibly positive and had an infectious spark that could get you excited about the many things he was excited about. Evan and I shared many complementary passions and were able to talk endlessly about them and learn from each other. We both loved music! He loved classical and I loved acoustic guitar music. Evan respected my love for guitar even though he didn't really believe it was a "superior musical instrument". We also both loved wood and discussed the many attributes and qualities of wood and its types and uses. Evan loved wooden sailing boats. He lived once on a sailboat and wrote books on them and built them. I told Evan,"that a sailing ship made of wood is greater than the sum of its parts as it is an inanimate object crafted from wood that becomes a living, breathing thing." He enthusiastically agreed and I said, "the only other thing I know of that is like it is a wooden acoustic guitar. Once built it also is an inanimate object crafted of wood but it becomes a living and breathing thing too." We together tried to find anything else crafted from wood (save Pinocchio) that had the ability to come alive and agreed only sailing ships and acoustic guitars fit our strict criteria and this gave Evan a bit more respect for my love of a less than superior instrument ;-)  We both loved animals, especially cats and dogs and his dog Ranger was The Evan of The Dog World! Ranger was the happiest, most energetic and enthusiastic dog on the planet and they made quite a pair together and I loved them both! Evan introduced me to toy trains and Alpha Romeo cars. He was an expert on both and as passionate about them as sailing I think. His toy train track rivaled any I had ever seen and he was one of the undisputed experts in the world on Alfa Romeo cars and still has the best selling book on Alfa Romeos. He loved Alfa Romeos with his pronoiic style of enthusiasm that only Evan could express. His personal Alfa Romeo during the North Eastern winters would be too cold to start in the mornings so he would build a fire in a metal pan and slide it under the car to heat the engine to get it started! I made a disparaging comment on the quality of such engineering and he said, "its not the car's fault it won't start, it is the weather's fault", if that isn't seeing the best in something and showing one's true character of love and passion I don't know what is! I know that Evan is in heaven right now and has met everyone, knows all their names and thinks heaven is "a wonderful, wonderful place full of wonderful, wonderful people!" I will probably be up there with him sooner than later and when all of you get there if you see a magnificent wooden sailing ship with a jolly curmudgeon  on it drinking coffee, talking linguistics, the Janka Wood Hardness Scale, military intelligence, locomotives, music, etc. and there is a big black and white dog and some cats chasing a toy train around the deck with an Alfa Romeo in the stern it is probably Evan just waiting for Ann to get there and steer the boat as she is the only one in the world who could ever keep him on course! Fair Winds and Following Seas my good friend and fellow Brother In Christ! 
I will miss you!
Hawk McCrary
June 14, 2024
I miss Evan’s sense of humor most of all. I can picture the twinkle in his eyes and his mischievous grin as he’d make slightly provocative and very smart assed comments about the state of the world.

He marched to a slightly different drummer but he sure seemed to be having a lot of fun doing it.
Tom Seidenstricker
June 4, 2024
Meeting Evan
I believe my history with Evan began as a message from above. I think it was 2007 and I had an urge to google my mother’s family name of Wilcox. I quickly noticed a message from someone seeking information on an Everett Wilcox of Great Barrington, MA. My Grandfather’s name was Everett Wilcox, from Great Barrington, MA so I was quite intrigued. There was a name and number, but I was a bit concerned because the message was posted over 2 years earlier. I called and Evan Wilson answered. I asked why he was looking for Everett Wilcox and he said Everett was his father; I was floored. I told him that Everett Wilcox was my grandfather. He then informed me that he was seeking information on his birth father’s medical history, he knew he died fairly young. He was also curious to learn something about his heritage.

I was very familiar with my Wilcox relatives and I had no knowledge of Evan. Evan explained that his mother had had a relationship with Everett and had subsequently given birth to Evan. He said his mother was a very strong independent woman who chose to raise him on her own, so the existence of Evan was never known to the Wilcox family. I later realized that his mother, who had never married and did not have the last name of Wilson, had given Evan a name with the initials of his father.

Evan said, as a teen, he remembered being told that his father had died and they were going to pay condolences to the widow of his father. He remembers a young woman with her. I told him that would have been my mother, his half sister Shirley, who died almost 20 years later.

I did not have the opportunity to meet my grandfather, so I wasn’t able to give Evan most of the information that he was seeking. I told him he had an older half brother, Merrill who would be able to give him those answers.

Merrill was intrigued, but cautious about the validity of a half brother. At the time Evan and Ann still lived in Maryland, so a meeting was arranged there. Merrill said as soon as he saw Evan he was convinced he was his father’s son when he noticed mannerisms of his father in Evan.

It turns out, Evan spent many years living in close proximity to his Maryland half family. I began to learn more about my half uncle, and his many achievements. How wonderful it would have been to have learned of Evan so many years earlier. My brother and I were lucky enough to be able to meet Evan and Ann, and introduce them to our families, before they left Maryland for Texas. I was thrilled to have found Evan, but sad at the missed opportunities especially sad that Evan missed out on knowing his equally wonderful big half sister; they would have truly enjoyed each other. With the death of Merrill several years ago, I like to believe that they are all enjoying the company of each other now.

Hilary Gates
Hilary Gates
June 3, 2024
I met Evan later in his life as he and Ann were our neighbors for too few years. He had such fascinating stories and I learned so much about his life, but not nearly all these extraordinary things he did. I mean…two years solo on a boat with a cat?! What a guy! One of our connections was animals and how great they were. A really fond memory I have is when he told me he created a “pet directory” when he lived in Baltimore (I think?) so that everyone who knew the different pets in the neighborhood could also get to know their owners. I always thought that was such a great idea. Evan was one of a kind for sure. Rest in peace, sweet friend.
Marianne Ross
June 3, 2024
Evan was key to our Peace & Freedom News in 1968. He showed us how to lay it out with blue pencil on poster boards, and found us our printing company. He was essential, in other words. Evan was present in the Peace Action Center laying out the latest issue on April 4 when community organizer Walt Lively rushed in to tell us that MLK had been shot in Memphis. Evan quickly cleared off the bottom right corner of Page One for a hand-drawn portrait of Dr. King, sketched by Lively. In those days, as those who knew him will remember well, Evan always nursed a steady highball, which he bolstered with Gauloise cigs. He was lots of fun and even though we were into serious left-wing, anti-war, pro-civil rights politics, we operated with tons of laughter.
Gren Whitman
June 1, 2024
June 1, 2024
Evan asked that John Updike’s 1960 poem, “Seven Stanzas at Easter,” be shared with friends at his memorial service. It speaks to his rock-hard faith. He did not dither about it as I seemed always to be doing. He simply believed. For him, acceptance was key. xxxoooxxx

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.
Ann Hume Wilson


What was Evan's favorite Book?
No-brainer! Alfa Romeo Giulietta, by Evan Wilson, his best-selling handbook on restoration of vintage Alfas. 
He also loved Melville, Whitman, and anything by Bill Bryson.
What was Evan's favorite Restaurant?
Hands down: Bartlett's in Austin TX. Man does not live by steak alone; he also needs a hot fudge sundae for dessert.
How did Evan end up in Texas?
Great question! Austin beckoned in 2004, when Ann went to work for the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas. Evan set about studying the history and culture of the state, and acquiring some really cool Luccheses and Stetsons!
What was Evan's favorite Movie?
No Country for Old Men. He could quote every line. Runner up: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy — it spoke to his own experiences in Army Intelligence. 
What was Evan's favorite TV show?
The West Wing (especially the Butterball Turkey episode) followed by Friday Night Lights, in which he made a number of appearances as an extra! 


Thank you to the many friends who attended Evan’s memorial service, whether in person or virtually. The service is still available for viewing at the link below, thanks to the wonderful staff of St. Matthew’s. You can click “download” for the service leaflet if you’d like to follow along. This website will remain in place in perpetuity (or as long as the internet holds up!). Please feel free to post a story, photo, or memory about Evan on the Memory Wall.
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
8134 Mesa Dr. Austin TX 78759
Saturday, June 15, 2:00 PM
Virtual event


Evan had a huge heart for all animals. He had a special love for burros, and supported Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (a 2019 CNN Top 10 Heroes Honoree) headquartered in San Angelo TX. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made at https://donkeyrescue.org/donate/. 

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