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Born: Aug 19, 1929

Date of Passing: Jan 02, 2016

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LEONARD SALUSBURY EVANS Peacefully, surrounded by the love of his family, Leonard Salusbury Evans, passed away at St. Boniface Hospital on January 2, 2016 at the age of 86 after suffering a heart attack. Predeceased by his wife, Alice, he leaves behind his three children, Brenda (Ron Bell), Janet (Chris Newton), and Randall (Cathy Evans); four grandsons, Jamie Bell (Amy), Devon Bell-Evans (Ashley), Andrew and Jeffrey Newton-Evans, and five great-grandchildren, Spencer, Corbin, Reegan, Keira, and Griffin. Len was born on August 19, 1929 in Transcona, Manitoba to Blodwyn (nee Salusbury) and David Evans. He was extremely proud of his Welsh heritage. Coming from a working class background, he was the only one in his family to attend university, earning an MA in Economics from United College (later U. of M.). In 2001, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Brandon University, of which he was very proud. He married the love of his life, Alice Mazinke, in 1954. After a short stint as a high school English teacher, he moved his young family to Ottawa to work for the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (Stats Can) and then the CMHC. After eight years, missing family and friends, he asked to be transferred back to Manitoba. In 1965, he accepted a position at Brandon University as an Economics professor. Having had a father who served as an alderman for the city of Transcona from 1938 to 1953, politics was in his blood. In 1953, at the age of 24, he ran for the federal constituency of St. Boniface, Manitoba as a CCF candidate. 16 years later, in the midst of pursuing his PhD, he was approached to run provincially for the NDP. Elected to the Schreyer government in 1969, he proudly served the people of Brandon East for 30 years. After leaving politics he served on the Public Utilities Board and more recently the Board of Governors of Brandon University. There has been much media coverage in the past few days about Len's legacy as an MLA and cabinet minister. His accomplishments are too numerous to list in detail here. He often spoke about expanding the boundaries of the City of Brandon, the construction of the Keystone Centre, and the rebuilding of the First Street bridge as a few of his proudest achievements. He worked tirelessly for his constituents and their individual concerns. Len was tenacious and never left a job half-done. His socialist principles guided his actions throughout his life. A fierce champion of social justice, he touched the lives of so many people and left the world a better place. In 2010, as a tribute to his outstanding contribution to the community, the new addition to Assiniboine Community College's north hill campus was named The Len Evans Centre for Trades and Technology. An accordion player and pianist, Len loved performing and played many a concert in local seniors' homes. He enjoyed hosting parties, good food and conversation which inevitably involved the current political issue of the day. He was a staunch humanist and a long time member of the Unitarian Church. Len was a generous, supportive, loving father and a wonderful provider for his wife and family. The death of Alice last June after 62 years of marriage left him devastated. He mourned her deeply. In recent weeks however, he was starting to enjoy life again. He continued his political activism through his many letters to the editor of the Brandon Sun. The outpouring of kind words and accolades written about Len has been overwhelming. The family is humbled and grateful for the love and support from the people of Brandon, the province of Manitoba and beyond. Dad would have felt deeply honoured. Words cannot express our thanks to the staff of the ICCU at St. Boniface hospital for the outstanding compassionate care our dad received and the kind support extended to our family at such a difficult time. A small gathering was held for family and close friends. A public memorial service will be announced in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Len Evans Memorial Scholarship at Brandon University by cheque (payable to the Brandon University Foundation) 270-18th Street, Brandon, MB, R7A 6A9 or online at Messages of condolence may be placed at Arrangements were in care of Brockie Donovan Funeral & Cremation Services, Brandon, (204) 727-0694.

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 09, 2016

Condolences & Memories (3 entries)

  • Len's enthusiasm for life and positive politics will live on for those of us blessed to have had the privilege of working with him. He and Alice were incredibly close and loving to one another. It is often said, that people who are successful in life (especially in politics) must have supportive spouses and Alice was at his side everywhere he went. Len was an incredibly hard working MLA and Minister. He was always lugging around binders of briefing books and heading off to meetings with staff and persons representing the fields for which he was responsible. Then, every weekend driving back to Brandon to be with his family and meet with constituents (and play a few concerts for those in Brandon's retirement homes). Always cheerful, no matter the burden. He was instrumental in the US Congress stopping funding for the Garrison Diversion Project by setting up a small bureau in the basement of the Leg to co-ordinate Manitobans in a non-partisan effort to present a united front to the USA to stop an irrigation project that would have transferred contaminate water and biota across the continental divide into the Hudson Bay Watershed. An incredibly effective MLA, the standing joke was that Brandon was going to sink out of sight with all the concrete being poured and pavement laid in Brandon. One event I fondly remember was the turing the sod ceremony for the new Knowles Douglas Student Union Building in 1985 with Lois's mom, Helen Cornwall who was also celebrating her 50th graduation reunion. We have a great picture of her smiling with Stanley and Tommy to remember that day. After Len's retiring from politics, Lois & I got to know Len and Alice better as they came to Victoria for a couple of months in the dead of winter a few times. As always, Len threw himself into local activities, especially the Victoria Humanists Society, making presentations and contributing to others and joining in social events and lunches with some of us former Manitobans out here on the wet coast. Alice missed Manitoba's winter sunshine and found our damp cold worse than Manitoba's dry cold, so after a few tries, I think they chose to go closer to their son in sunny California. We've missed them. We are not surprised to hear that Len took Alice's passing very hard. They were so close, he would be lost and broken hearted without her. To their children and grand-children, this has been a very difficult year for you and you have our deepest sympathies. Thank you Len for a fulfilling life well lived in the service of others. - Posted by: Don Scott (Former Colleague - 1981-1988 MLA Inkster) on: Jan 11, 2016

  • Just finished reading Len's memorial and feel such a sense of loss. Len saw a lot of MLAs come and go over his 30 years as a MLA and I was one who admired him. I am remembering his vitality and vision for making government work for people. Just out of university I worked as a civil servant in his department called Employment and Economic Security during the Pawley Government. That name represented Len's vision not just Jobs and Economy - but Economic Security. I think of the Min-Com program during the Schreyer Government and Len would have had a hand in that effort at a Guaranteed Annual Income Program. The youth employment programs and regional development funds. Len's energy was remarkable and I recall marvelling at his ability to drive, as a rural MLA, back and forth from Brandon and he was already a senior while I complained of commuting from Transcona. I enjoyed knowing Len retired back in Transcona in the Radisson side. And as a little tribute to him I think of him every time I think of the HOMES program we created at a West Central Women's Resource Centre - Housing Options Mentoring Econmic Security. Peace to you Len and Alice and your family. You will be missed. Marianne Cerilli MLA Radisson 1990-2003. - Posted by: Marianne Cerilli (MLA colleague. ) on: Jan 10, 2016

  • I knew both Len and Alice as Unitarian Universalist church friends, where we attended together. The two were inseparable, and I certainly understand Len's recent months of grieving for the loss of his partner. Our congregation will miss them both. Len & I had been in telephone contact about once a year, although with Alice's hospitalization and consequent death, we had talked much more frequently, by long distance. We chatted for about an hour in our last conversation this past summer - he was easy to talk with, and you could "hear" the smile on his face as we conversed. Len was a nice man and a good man for our Province. - Posted by: Linda Henderson (church friend) on: Jan 09, 2016

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