Legacy of a Founding Partner: Bob Evans

The outdoors was “home” to colleague Bob Evans. He grew up with a fishing pole, paddle and hockey stick in his hands. The International Falls area is known as a sportsman’s paradise. Bob joined his Dad in taking full advantage of the abundant resources. His woods and water expertise was well known. So too, his skill as a hockey player and youth mentor. His family shared extensive camping adventures. As could be expected, Bob carried his passion for hockey, his love of nature and his commitment to spiritual direction throughout his St. Olaf College years. 

Kneeling Bob (L) and Oz confer on route 
plans as campers await departure
The Luther Seminary “cadre” that worked together on inner city mission outreach all brought varied backgrounds with similar consciousness. The passion included urban inquiry, justice, peace, care for the poor, one on one mentoring, civil and human rights, racism, environmental education and communication of the Gospel thru camping were arenas of common interest. The inner-city probes encouraged by Dr. Andrew Burgess helped to bring pastoral ministry into a more sustainable context. Bob brought his wide range of life experience, his redemptive work at Ramsey County Totem Town and his understated good humor to our renewal table. 
It was quite amazing to see how many Seminary students brought their respective talents and interests into the outreach tent. Youth at-risk were being contacted; the Gospel took on legs. We were learning by doing…trying to share thru new opportunities, new avenues. 
Bob and Oz put together a pilot canoe trip in 1953. They recruited a group of eight teens for their camping adventure. They shared their Christian faith. 
Final debriefing with Bob and Joel

This pilot expedition encouraged additional trips led by Ray Miklethun and Mark Reinertson, Bob and Joel Anderson. All helped to focus later camping conversations that would lead to our WILDERNESS commitment within the PCYC ministry. 

Bob returned to the Seminary for the senior year following his internship in Montana. As you could expect, that western year was laced with Bible Camping and life outdoors. He had followed from a distance the growth of PCYC. An energetic “Plymouth Project” foundation was being established to meet a variety of physical, education and spiritual needs. There was remarkable flexibility and potential for urban mission. Bob, Bob Nervig and Curt Johnson all returned to surround our PCYC team and the dozens of volunteers. Oz continued his Red Wing work and northside partnership. We all felt we needed to stay the course. PCYC and its many spinoffs were, we believed, making a dent…a renewal difference. 
Pastor Bob shares the Gospel
The American Lutheran Church agreed to issue ordination calls to PCYC for both Bob and me. It was a bold undertaking by the Board of Trustees. The Division of Charities, under Dr. Magnus Dahlen, signed off on the certification. We accepted this challenge knowing that it was truly a mission-filled “faith venture.” To help make ends meet, we lived on the third floor of “the old hotel.” We did what needed to be done so that this fragile but promising ministry could continue. With a poultry/chicken operation adjacent to our east and a liquor store adjacent to our west, our Center door was symbolically placed. 
For almost four years, Bob and I shared leadership at PCYC Our responsibilities and assignments were mutually shared. Our “Tent” expanded: one-to-one kin mentoring; Camp Knutson participation; the beginnings of our Frontier Farm at Effie; continued close collaboration with Oz at Red Wing State Training School; numerous small educational and spiritual direction groups; worship services; community-wide celebrations; family counseling; parish and Sem volunteer training. WILDERNESS emerged as an integral component in 1956 with the acquisition of Fishhook Island on Seagull Lake near the end of the Gunflint Trail. Bob was a consummate pastoral partner in all that transpired during those very complex, challenging years. 
Wilderness co-founders: Pastor Ham and Pastor Bob
The pastoral leadership shaping WILDERNESS beginnings was spirited, focused and determined. Bob and Oz brought special skills and experience. No one could handle a paddle or filet a fish with finesse like Bob Evans… and it was done with grace and gratitude. His primary camping responsibilities centered at Frontier Farm. His heart and influence were also clearly evident in WILDERNESS beginnings. 
From International Falls ordination in 1956, to his call to the Prince of Glory projects parish in 1960, Bob was a faithful, beloved pastor and leader at PCYC His imprint on the North Side and North Woods ministry was deep. He brought steady direction, creative counsel and integrity to his service. His energy in the earliest of The Founding Years helped to establish a WILDERNESS future. He was blessed in partnership with wife, Alice…who undauntingly shared third floor “hotel” quarters, compassion for urban mission and maximum personal flexibility…in order to sustain and support their mutual ministry. 

Bob and Alice at commissary bell tower
The gift of Bob’s presence and passion are a WILDERNESS legacy to be long remembered.
I thank God for Bob… and his wonderful gifts for ministry.

– Ham Muus (Founding Director)