Obit: Estill Raymond Evans

Obit: Estill Raymond Evans

June 29th, 2016 in Obituaries
In Memory

Estill Raymond "Ray" Evans, 77, died Friday, June 17, 2016, in a local hospital. He was born March 15, 1939, in Grandview, Tenn. He was preceded in death by his son, Edwin Evans. He is survived by his wife, Shirley McDonald Evans, daughter Emmaline Evans and granddaughter Carolina Evans, all of Red Bank, ; a sister, Anna Shockley; and his mother, Inez Evans, age 100, both of Corona, Calif.; along with many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Raymond attended school in Spring City, Tenn., and joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1957. In the next year he was stationed with the 3rd Marine Division which opened the Marine compound at Da Nang Airbase, Vietnam. He traveled extensively in Southeast Asia during his time there and his perspectives on cultural diversity, politics and America's role in the world were largely shaped by his experiences there. He returned to California in the 1960s and became politically active. He was strongly supportive of the candidacy of Robert Kennedy whose murder and those of John F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. further strengthened his resolve in support of racial equality and economic and social justice. He was strongly supportive of the work of the American political Left. During that time, he worked as a union organizer traveling across the country including work to unionize coal miners in Kentucky. He was, until his death, a tireless advocate for poor people, victims of police abuse and political oppression and he was an unapologetic opponent of predatory capitalism everywhere. Raymond's travels and experiences in Asia, Mexico and Central America which he termed "swimming in the sea of the people", naturally led him to develop a strong interest in anthropology. After moving to Chattanooga around 1970, he entered the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and excelled in the study of sociology and cultural anthropology. He graduated magna cum laude and developed a strong friendship and working relationship with the late Dr. Jeffrey L. Brown and was involved in many significant projects undertaken by Dr. Brown's Institute of Archaeology. He was a founding member and longtime board member of the Tennessee Anthropological Association between 1976 and 1985. He also served as a board member, associate editor and vice president of the Tennessee Archaeological Society during that same period. He was a researcher with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, N.C.,and, along with Dr. Duane King, published many definitive articles for the museum detailing Cherokee history in their Journal of Cherokee Studies. More recently, he worked with advocates of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma to advance understanding of the historical importance of the Muscogee people who long predated the Cherokee in the Tennessee Valley and who interacted with the Spanish explorers who entered this area in the mid 1500s. He supported the Chattanooga Regional History Museum and greatly lamented its loss. His primary research interests were the Spanish Colonial Period, African-American Ethno-History and the American Civil War. He was a participating or principal field investigator working for Hensley-Schmidt Engineers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Tennessee Division of Archaeology, the Urban Observatory of Tennessee State University, the National Park Service, and GAI Consultants of Pittsburgh. His curriculum vitae lists over 70 field investigations; over 200 books and manuscripts; several Museum projects in Tennessee, Alabama and California; and many educational programs for schools. Over the last century, with the loss of nearly all of the irreplaceable archaeological resources in the Chattanooga area to vandalism and insensitive development, Ray called archaeology a "science rapidly losing its subject". He wrote a detailed "Cultural Synthesis of the Chattanooga Riverfront" for Hamilton County government to highlight the disappearing cultural resources in our community saying "at least they can't say they didn't know about them." Many regard it as sad and ironic that in the same week of his death, a newspaper article appeared concerning planned destruction of the last vestiges of Chattanooga's globally significant Citico Mound and Muscogee town site. In the 1990s, Raymond turned his efforts toward the American Civil War with the approach of the 150th anniversary of the war, particularly the Chickamauga and Atlanta campaigns. He chronicled the actions during the war in Dade and Walker counties, Ga. He wrote 100 books detailing important persons and battles of the war and provided the interpretative text for more than 70 historical markers erected in north Georgia and in Chattanooga by the Chickamauga Campaign Heritage Trail Project in partnership with Mr. John Culpepper and the Georgia Civil War Commission. He wrote Samuel F. Cheney and the 21st Ohio Infantry at Chickamauga which was presented to Vice President Cheney when he visited the re-enactment of the battle in 2003. He was active with the local camps of Sons of Confederate Veterans, Sons of Union Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy in many of their activities and re-enactments. His efforts in Georgia were recognized by Gov.Sonny Purdue. He produced a detailed book documenting the major role of Chickamauga Park when it was a troop staging area prior to the Spanish-American War entitled Camp Thomas. He researched the Underground Railroad and the local role of the 42nd and 44th U.S. Colored Troops while serving as a consultant with the Chattanooga African-American Museum. He wrote a history of Hill City and Beck Knob Cemetery and engaged in several publication projects in partnership with the late Ms. Vilma Fields, former director of the Museum, where he was affectionately called "Mr. E." He supported Concerned Citizens of Chattanooga and Chattanooga Organized for Action. He was also a founding member and a contributor to the National African-American Museum in Washington which he had hoped to visit during its dedication. He supported the local Medal of Honor Museum of Military History and produced a book about the Civil War recipients of the National Medal of Honor in the local area. His book, "Paths To Valor, "was awarded "Book of the Year" recognition in 2014 by the Tennessee Historical Commission. All who met Raymond were amazed by his encyclopedic knowledge and treasure the legacy he has left us. Cremation arrangements are by Hamilton Funeral Home and Cremation Services. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to the Chattanooga Bicentennial Library, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National African American Museum or a charity of choice and wishes to express thanks for the kindness shown by the funeral home and the staff of the Erlanger Hospital ICU. A gathering of remembrance for family and friends will be held this Friday, July 1, from 5-8 p.m. at Mile Straight Baptist Church in Soddy-Daisy. Refreshments will be provided. A similar service will be announced soon to be held at the Signal Mountain Church of Latter-day Saints.


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