Michael Joseph Evans of New York City passed away on March 17, 2020, at the age of 40, leaving behind a wide circle of friends and loved ones.
Born in Cali, Colombia, on March 11, 1980, Michael moved to Texas with his mother, Elizabeth Palacio Evans, when he was four months old, joining his father, Michael Russell Evans, in Dallas. He attended several small church schools before entering Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving in the fifth grade, and he was baptized and confirmed at Bethel Lutheran Church in Dallas. From there, he continued his academic career at St. Andrews School in Middletown, Delaware, where he enjoyed singing in the choir and competing in wrestling and crew. After graduating from high school in 1998, Michael accepted a wrestling scholarship to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and he went on to complete his undergraduate education at University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia, earning an honors degree in history. He subsequently pursued a master’s degree in international relations at University of Oxford, Christ Church, from which he graduated in 2005.
Michael made lifelong friends in each locale, equally comfortable socializing in large gatherings as in intimate settings. He adopted Sydney as his second home, learning to sail, surf, and scuba dive while he was there, and he returned to visit as frequently as life would allow.
Arriving in NYC, he soon found his niche in state government as the special assistant to the deputy secretary for infrastructure and economic development. He discovered a keen interest in these issues and proved himself to be a diligent and insightful team member. Before long he was promoted to special assistant for infrastructure under Governor David Paterson and then to chief of staff to Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch. From the beginning, he was assigned to work on the Moynihan Station Project, and his career took on new momentum in 2011, when he became the first vice president and deputy director of the Moynihan Station Development Corporation. His dedication to the project was well known, and in February 2013, he was named president of the MSDC.
The complexity and magnitude of the project speaks to Michael’s exceptional leadership. He oversaw a $3 billion public-private partnership to redevelop an early 20th-century post office building on 8th Avenue into a mixed-use development with a new train hall for Amtrak and Long Island Railroad. One of the largest public infrastructure projects in the country, he worked tirelessly to ensure its completion. His ability to seek consensus, his level-headed approach to tricky problems, and his steady professionalism not only endeared him to colleagues and community stakeholders alike, but are in fact largely credited with positioning the station to be completely open to the public in the next year.
Accomplished beyond his years, Michael had served with distinction on the Board of Trustees of St. Andrew’s School since 2014, most recently as chair of the Land Use Task Force. He was devoted to the environmental stewardship of the extensive school campus and inspired others with his far-reaching vision.
Michael’s personal time reflected his many passions and interests. He delighted in the outdoors, hiking, camping, cycling, running, swimming, snow skiing, and more, and yet perhaps for him nothing quite compared to sitting for hours with a good book. His dry wit was such a contrast to his thoughtful nature that it was uniquely hilarious and always brought a laugh when one seemed to need it most. He loved to cook and experiment with creative recipes and especially enjoyed sharing his dishes with good friends at spontaneously organized dinner parties. Although in some ways Michael had become a New Yorker, he never hesitated to identify as a Texan. He cherished family reunions and always had a taste for barbecue and pecan pie.
Michael deeply touched numerous people with his genuine concern for others and his desire to make a positive difference in the world. He is profoundly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him, including his parents, Michael and Elizabeth Evans of Dallas, his sister, Carrie Evans of Salado, his uncle, Ned Evans, and his wife, Sue, of Johnson City, TN, his uncles Francisco Palacio of Santa Marta, Colombia, and Jose Palacio and his wife, Clara, of Cali, Colombia, his aunt, Lucia Palacio Iguaran, and her husband, Jesus, of Santa Marta, Colombia, his great aunt, Yvonne Jackson of Joshua, his great uncle, Steve Russell of Crossroads, his dear cousin Indira Castro and her husband, Celso, of Santa Marta, Colombia, many other cousins, and several close circles of friends from New York to Sydney to London and beyond.
Gifts in Michael’s memory may be directed to the Michael Evans Scholarship Fund at St. Andrew’s School, 350 Noxontown Road, Middletown, DE, 19709; Cistercian Preparatory School, 3660 Cistercian Road, Irving, TX, 75039; or a charity of your choice.
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