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News > Old Scholar > Vale Mr Michael J B Evans (FLL 1959)

Vale Mr Michael J B Evans (FLL 1959)

The extraordinary dedication of three generations of the Evans family to St Peter's College over 100 years 1899-1999
12 Sep 2023
Written by David Docwra
Old Scholar

Old scholars may now be aware that Mr Michael J B Evans died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday July 19th 2023, aged 81.

Michael's affection for St Peter’s College was evident throughout his life. He remained interested in everything that was going on at the School and he was always particularly interested to hear about the successes of Farrell House. He served as the Secretary to the School and the Council of Governors from 1977 to 1999. He had a great knowledge of the history of Saints.

Michael's funeral, on July 27th, at St Columba's Church, Hawthorn, was a testament to the respect all of us had for him, with the Church overflowing.

Perhaps this is a time to also consider the extraordinary contribution to our School made by the Evans family over 100 years: 1899 to 1999.

Michael’s retirement in 1999 signified the culmination of a century of the Evans family's service to St Peter's College. Three generations of the Evans family have served the School with distinction. Michael, his father, Mr L A R Evans, and his grandfather, Mr A E H Evans, all played crucial roles in the School's history.

When Mr A E H Evans died in 1950, the School Magazine of May 1950 recorded:

“It is with great regret that we record the death of Mr Evans. Known to hundreds of St Peter’s boys, Mr Evans was School Secretary for 47 years. He was the first Secretary also of the Old Collegians’ Association. In sport he was an interstate cricketer and a good left-hand bat. He excelled in other games and, in later years, in golf, but his chief interest in life was always the welfare of the school - its classroom activities, its Chapel Choir, its games. He had an almost infinite capacity for hard work. But we believe that what will remain most in his friends’ minds when they think and talk of him will be his old word courtesy and generosity. We desire to express our sympathy with Mrs Evans and the family and particularly with Mr L A R Evans, who after returning from active service, succeeded his father as School Secretary”.

Image: The Observer, Saturday June 9 1923  Page 32. -

When Mr A E H Evans took over as Secretary of the Old Collegians’ Association in 1900, there were only 198 members. When he resigned in 1923, the total had become 2,395. “The Observer” newspaper of Saturday June 9, 1923, comments: “The splendid increase was mainly due to the work of this gentleman”. It mentions the “loyal and indefatigable service” he had given to the St Peter's Collegians' Association over 23 years.

Mr L A R Evans (FLL 1924) spent most of his life in close association with St Peter’s College. He was baptized as a child in the School Chapel and entered the school as a pupil in 1915, leaving in 1924.  Len studied accountancy (he later became a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants), joined his father's office in 1927, became Assistant Secretary to the School in 1933 and Secretary in 1946.

Image:  L A R Evans pictured in the 1989 SPSC School Magazine

Len enlisted in the Australian Army Service Corps soon after the outbreak of war in 1939 and became a member of the 8th Division of the AIF. With the fall of Singapore in February 1941 he became a prisoner of war at the hands of the Japanese until 1945.

Image: SPSC School Magazine, December 1969

Old scholars who were at St Peter’s College in 1969 may remember Mr Len Evans coming to the School to present a valuable collection of military buttons and medals to the School Cadet Unit. These had been collected by him when, as Lt. Evans of the 2nd A.I.F., he was a prisoner of the Japanese. He was held at Changi and later in Japan from 1941 to 1945. At the presentation Mr Evans spoke briefly about his experiences. He was imprisoned sixty miles from Hiroshima when the atom bomb exploded in 1945, and he vividly described the great mushroom cloud that arose from the city.

Image: Michael and Len 1976 for ‘the handover’ meeting from Len to Michael of AEH Evans firm.

As Secretary to the School Len worked tirelessly for the welfare of the School and had the satisfaction of seeing many of his aspirations for its financial security realised. The Da Costa Building, the Regent Arcade, and a secure superannuation system for Masters were among the achievements for which he worked with energy and foresight. Guy Pentreath, Colin Gordon and John Miller were Headmasters with whom Len Evans worked with harmony and mutual respect. He retired as Secretary in 1976 and was succeeded in this office by his son Michael.

The School Chapel was full for his Memorial Service held on Wednesday, 22nd November 1989.

Mr Michael J B Evans (FLL 1959) was at St Peter’s College as a boy 1950-1959, starting in Palm House. Michael showed resilience from a young age. At the age of six, he contracted polio, and after two years of treatment and rehabilitation, returned to school where he “had a go” at everything. Being unable to participate in sport, he contributed by time keeping for the First XVIII Football Team.

In 1957 he was awarded a Headmaster’s Prize (given for rendering outstanding service to the School) “for a fine example to the School of courage in adversity”.

As an Economics graduate and a Chartered Accountant, he joined A E H Evans & Co, Chartered Accountants. He later became a partner.

Image: SPSC School magazine 1990 (Michael Evans - far right, back row)

In 1977, he became Secretary and Bursar of St Peter's College. He retired from this position and from A E H Evans & Co in 1999, after 100 years of continuous family service to the School as Secretary to the Council of Governors. A E H Evans & Co is now Evans + Ayers and continues to contribute to St Peters College.

In the Headmaster’s Report at Speech Day 1999, Mr R L Burchnall said:

“The School owes Michael a great debt of gratitude for the astuteness and meticulous efficiency with which he has managed the School’s finances for 22 years. Earlier this year the Science, Technology and Art Centre won an award of merit from the Property Council of Australia as an outstanding example of the intelligent use of funds to create an educational asset. This was due in no small measure to Mr Evans. He has served the School with dedication and distinction”.

The Evans family’s generosity to our School can also be seen in The Evans Family Bursary (established by Michael in 2018), the L A R Evans Scholarship Prize for Accounting, the A E H Evans Memorial Prize for Music and the Evans Theatre.

As we reflect upon the contribution of three generations of the Evans family to St Peter's College, we feel gratitude for their service, commitment, and strong spirit in the face of adversity. Would our School have been as successful as it has been without their 100-year contribution?

Our condolences go to Michael's wife Rachel, and his children Kathryn (Kit) and David (FLL 1992) and grandchildren Mia, T, Ashton and Minnah.

Researched and written by David Docwra

David Docwra retired from St Peter’s College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service and is fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years. David remains connected to St Peter’s College and regularly provides historical articles for the St Peter’s Old Collegians’ newsletters. In 2023 David was made an Honorary Member of the St Peter’s Old Collegians’ Association.

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