James Lewis Evenson

James Lewis Evenson

May 1, 1927 – Sept. 19, 2020

James Lewis Evenson, 93, passed on Sept. 19, 2020, in Anchorage. Jim was born in Chicago on May 1, 1927, and grew up Oak Park, Illinois. He attended Grinnell College in Iowa and received a Bachelor of Arts while majoring in art, before attending the University of Iowa and received a Master of Arts in Art History and a Master of Fine Arts.

Jim taught art at Cornell College in Iowa from 1953-55, during which time he met his future wife Nedra Thorsrud Riebe, of Cedar Falls. They married in 1954. In 1955, Jim, Nedra and Thor drove to Kenai. Jim got involved in Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishing that summer. Jim and Nedra homesteaded on Bishop Lake in Nikiski, and Jim taught English, art and coached basketball at Kenai Central High School and taught adult art classes.

Jim’s participation was requested on many boards and committees around the state where his contributions had significant impact. He was admired by many and widely respected by both friends and foes in his numerous posts ranging from high school basketball coach to the United Fishermen of Alaska. His council was welcome because of his fairness, sensitivity to and appreciation of all concerns – an all too rare penchant in an increasingly polarized world.

They traveled to Malaga, Spain, where Jim took a sabbatical to study stone lithography in 1970-71. Jim’s art work was displayed in numerous galleries and shows in Alaska and in the Lower 48. Jim served on the Alaska State Council on the Arts from 2004-06, and the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank holds several of his works.

Jim remained very active in fishing, painting and lithography after his high school teaching retirement. Jim served on the United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) and the United Fishermen of Alaska. Jim was the first UCIDA President, serving from 1981-1985.

Jim and Nedra were involved in the United Methodist Church and the community in Kenai. In 2004, they donated a portion of their homestead to the Nikiski Seniors to build the Nikiski Senior Center and senior apartments. The homestead was Jim’s favorite place on earth. He loved the people of the Kenai area and had many friends. One of his favorite activities was playing banjo in jam sessions in the Kenai and Soldotna area. Jim was a generous, sensitive, and talented man who is greatly missed.

Jim was survived by his wife Nedra, who then passed May 28, 2021; his son and grandson Thor and Taylor Evenson; his nephew Chuck Thorsrud of Homer; and his sister Kathryn Barnett of Idaho and their families. His full obituary is online in the Clarion and the ADN 7.4.21.

Please join us for a celebration of Jim and Nedra’s lives at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 22, at the family homestead in Nikiski. Please, PLEASE RSVP: 907-274-4242 or joyousbody@gmail.com

Any donations in Jim’s honor may be made to the United Methodist Church of Kenai, the Kenai Fine Arts Center and UCIDA. Thank you!