He says he’s done all he can. So, on Tuesday, Dr. Owen Beverly “Bev” Evans celebrated his retirement from practice at Blair E. Batson Hospital For Children. “Two years ago when I stepped down as chair, I vowed I’d never have another ceremony,” he said from the lobby of the hospital where a portrait was unveiled of him, sitting at a desk. “I got ceremonied to death.”
Indeed, when Dr. Evans announced his retirement as chairman of the department in 2011, there was much cause for celebration for a physician who has devoted so much of his life to his profession. On his rounds, the hospital has grown exponentially with the building of a new children’s hospital including a surgical wing, emergency room, lobby, cancer clinic and general pediatric clinic. He founded Friends of Children’s Hospital, and through generous partnerships with the Junior League, Eli Manning, Fondren Renaissance and more, he has helped to raise millions for the care and treatment of children.
At the unveiling, dozens of colleagues from Dr. Evans’ time in Jackson were in attendance including incoming department chairman, Dr. Rick Barr. “I want to emphasize how much you mean to each of us in our lives,” Dr. Barr said. “That’s what this portrait signifies. It’s not a building or a job you held, but that you really made a difference in people’s lives here, most definitely in patients’ lives.”
Having just come from maybe his last Friends of Children’s Hospital board meeting, Dr. Evans remembered the early days in forming the support group. “I can remember when I had to bring my six year old in so we’d have a quorum,” he chuckled. He announced that he’d just learned that Alabama alumni association car tag sales brought in $10,000 last month alone. “That amazes me.”
At 66, still young by most standards, we asked Dr. Evans why he chose now to retire. He simply answers “It was time.” Changing institutional practices that keep pace with modern technology and a changing chairman’s role leave him glad to turn it over. “I had sort of achieved what I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted the concept of a children’s hospital, not just the bricks and mortar. This is a children’s hospital. We look like one and act like one; we are one.”
As for his new norm, June 28, his official last day, brings a to-do list a mile long. “I’m trying to figure out how to find time to do everything,” he said.
Family will certainly be at the top of those priorities. Dr. Evans and wife, Lynn, have two grandchildren, whom he calls “the light of our lives.” Daughter, Dr. Katherine Snyder, is a hospitalist at Children’s Hospital and son, Owen Beverly is a singer-songwriter living in New York City.
Dr. Evans, who has always liked to work with his hands, paints and makes wooden toys. He said he wants to fish more and play more golf. In a word: piddling. He said “I have plenty to do.”
Not one for much fanfare or hoopla, Dr. Evans graciously gave credit to those who made his career a fulfilling one before unveiling his portrait, hanging in the shadow of his mentor, Dr. Blair E. Batson. “To my wife and daughter and son, who have been by my side and all the many friends we have had through the years, working to get this done, without all of you, none of this what have been possible.
Read more on Dr. Evans’ career and accomplishments in the summer edition of Find It In Fondrenâ„¢ Magazine, on stands June 13-14.