Kingsbury County lost a good man on Dec. 2, 2020. Hugh Evans was born May 22, 1937, to Hugh Evans, Sr. and Elizabeth Quinn Evans in Lamberton, Minn. In the spring of 1946, the Evans family moved to a house north of Iroquois in Kingsbury County, S.D. Hugh would live in that house for the next 74 years - a fact which he took some pride in. Hugh's father passed away in 1951, but Hugh and "Ma" continued to work hard to keep the family farm.
Hugh graduated from high school in 1955 and was drafted into the service. From 1958-1962, he left the farm temporarily to work "for his Uncle Sam" at Ft. Ord, Calif. and Ft. Lewis, Wash. He liked to say he worked for room and board, free green clothes and $97.00 a month. Hugh tried marriage once from 1965 to 1969, but it didn't agree with him. In 1968, Hugh's mother, Beth, married Jim Atchison, and Jim became Hugh's mentor, dear friend and farming partner, and the three shared a close personal and business relationship until Jim's death in 1985.
Hugh began working on his parent's farm while he was still a young boy in Lamberton and would continue to farm all his life. He regarded his land, however, as much more than just a means to make a living. He loved everything on it, from the soil, water and grass to the deer and pheasants that made their home there. He always set aside space for wildlife to be and stocked his pastures carefully, so that they were never overgrazed. He was especially proud to own and care for hundreds of acres of virgin sod - large tracts of unbroken prairie that had grown the same native grasses and wildflowers for thousands of years.
Hugh played as hard as he worked. He loved music and dancing, and Klinkel Hall dances were a favorite night out during his youth. One of his favorite holidays was St. Patrick's Day. He was proud of his Irish heritage and loved the "wear-in of the green," green beer, sauerkraut and corned beef and "Danny Boy." On the special day, he would bring a little green beanie and affect an Irish jig, and spent some of these with family and friends in Las Vegas.
Pheasant season was a special time on the farm. Since the early 1970s, Hugh's farm was the site of numerous "hunts," which in later years were more about fellowship, food and beverage than hunting. Over the years Hugh hosted dozens of hunters who came from all over the country and all walks of life. Lifetime friendships were made and continued indefinitely. In recent years Hugh built a large machine shed, which became "the shed," where gatherings were held, including his 80th birthday. Birthdays were special to Hugh, as he traveled to California for his Aunt Jean's 90th birthday and then years later to Reno for her 100th birthday. The shed also became a place to exhibit his collection of paintings made by local artists. Among his favorites were those done by Julie Waldner and Galen Wallum.
Hugh was proud of the fact that he drove a hard bargain, and it was well-known that he could be chewing you up one minute only for him to turn around and be your best friend the next. However, Hugh was, at his core, a generous and really quite sensitive person, and nowhere was this more obvious than in his love for animals. He doted on his cattle, handfeeding them corn cobs and regarding them with an affection more often given to pets than livestock. The great horde of cats he fed on a daily basis had to be seen to be believed and was the subject of much humor - one could be forgiven for thinking that he was running a sanctuary for lost and wayward felines. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Hugh always had a dog, and he always spoiled it utterly rotten. Dagmar, a golden lab, was his last dog and was his constant companion wherever he went.
Being a bachelor most of his life, Hugh was a frequent visitor to diners and coffee houses. In his earlier days, he and his friends would convene at the Plains or Crossroads in Huron every Sunday morning at about 6:00 a.m. in order to hash out and doubtlessly solve the world's many problems. Much time was spent with Scott and Stan Meyers at the Oxbow in De Smet. Their help and concern were much appreciated when it became difficult for Hugh to walk. It was his place to go for food, drink and fellowship.
Everyone knew Hugh. While he didn't have many close relatives, he had several extended families. Two of these are Gary and Lee Ann Stofferahn and their five children and families and Vona Leckey and her three children and families. He was included in family events and holidays and was loved by all. He had a special friendship with Amelia Floren, Vona's great granddaughter. The bond seemed to start from the very beginning of her life. Amelia would look up to him with quiet, trusting eyes and seemed to find what made him unique, especially as it concerned animals, a love they both knew. Just prior to Hugh's passing, she shared that she had had a dream in which Hugh was again a young man seeking many adventures as an explorer.
Friends and survivors of Hugh include his dear friend and companion, Vona Leckey and family, Gary and Lee Ann Stofferahn and family, cousin Jim Evans and family of Lamberton, Minn., cousin Bill MacLyman and family of Reno, Nev., Bill Potter and family of Bakersfield, Calif., cousins Jim and Peggy Hess of Huron, S.D., and various cousins throughout California. Special thanks go out to Gary and Lee Ann and their family for their friendship and help during his last difficult weeks. Thanks to Jay and Patti Slater for taking care of Dagmar. Thanks also to all the doctors, nurses and medical staff who took care of Hugh.