Business leader Bob Evans, known by many as the unofficial mayor of Sugar House, died last week of cancer at his home at the age of 69.
Evans, longtime owner of Sugar House Coffee, earned a reputation as a builder because of his love of the venerable Salt Lake City business district and was credited with spearheading community events such as the Sugar House Farmers Market, the July 4th celebration, monthly artist strolls and Santa's Shack.
"Bob was an amazingly creative and energetic guy," said longtime Sugar House activist and historian Lynne Olson. "He was willing to get things started. If there was a good idea floating around and it needed a nudge, he would give it that nudge and do whatever was needed to make it work. He was tremendously important to a lot of people and very beloved. Sugar House Coffee became everybody's hangout."
Laurie Bray, a Sugar House photographer, said that Evans often used his coffee houses that were located in three different places in the area as venues for artists and musicians.
"There was something about his personality that was so inviting," she said. "If he invited you to do something, you wanted to say yes and help out. He was always giving back to the community. He was a resourceful person who found ways to improve things."
Annalisa Holcome, who chairs the Sugar House Merchants Association, said Evans brought her into the organization.
"He brought everyone together," she said. "His truck was always parked around Sugar House, when he was bringing in all of the small, local independent owners together. He would take the time to meet them and talk to them. And he was funny, really funny. It is hard to think I won't listen to his jokes anymore. "
Olson said that even when Evans was battling cancer, he would make an effort to be at his coffeehouse to greet customers and friends. She credited him with keeping the Sugar House Merchants Association active and alive.
"He managed to become enthusiastic about every good idea that came along and gave great advice for moving it forward," Olson said.
Evans was the son of Neldon and Dorothy Evans. He grew up in Lehi and graduated in 1962 from Lehi High, where he served as student body president and played football, tennis and basketball. His love of tennis made him many friends. He played for the University of Utah.
He moved to San Francisco in 1966 to work at U.S. Steel and married Kathy Eastmond in 1967. The couple, who divorced in 1990, had four children. In 1999, Evans returned to Utah, where he married Martha Sonntag Bradley in 2002.
Evans purchased Rimini Coffee and then started Sugar House Coffee. He is survived by his wife, sisters, brother and children.
Funeral services are scheduled Friday at 11 a.m. at the Granite Stake Center, 2005 S. 900 East. Guests can visit with the family between 10 and 10:45 a.m. at the church. There will also be an open house where friends can visit with the family Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Memorial House at 485 N. Canyon Road in Salt Lake City.