Cover photo for James Leroy Evans's Obituary
James Leroy Evans Profile Photo
1934 James 2020

James Leroy Evans

October 12, 1934 — April 3, 2020

James Leroy Evans, age 85, passed away on Friday, April 3, 2020 in the home he shared
with his daughter Linda Damita in Cornville, Arizona. His sons Abe and Carlos Galvan, Leo
and James Evans and daughters Yvonne Lyons and Linda Damita, survive him, as well as
his younger sister Yvonne Blazy and older brother R. Keene Evans Sr.. James also leaves
12 grand children and 12 great grand children. James and his wife Maria Amelia Aragon
Evans, also known as ‘Millie” who was a notable Mariachi singer and guitarist, were married
forty years before her passing from complications of Parkinson’s Disease in December of
2005. Services for James are delayed at this time due to the Corona-Virus pandemic but
details of a future memorial will be available via Facebook as a Public Event listing when the
time comes which will likely be in early summer 2020.
James or Jim, affectionately known as “Grizzly” was a wood, water and wildlife artist, a
talented painter and a lover of nature in all its glory. Raised in Benton Harbor, Michigan, he
was a hunter, fisherman and outdoors man since his youth. He started painting at age seven
and, collected butterflies and moths, built model airplanes, raised orphaned squirrels and
even a fox. He attended Trinity Lutheran School in St. Joseph, Michigan and St. Joseph High
School. He proudly homeschooled with the Famous Artists Course founded by Norman
Rockwell and credits that as his foundational education and training as an artist. He proudly
entered into the Army Reserves from 1956 -1962 with basic training in the Infantry at Ft.
Leonard Wood, Missouri. He then trained in the Artillery at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma as a Forward
Observer and finally landed as a Medic at Ft. Huachuca in Arizona in 1957.
In addition to his many talents, Jim leaves a legacy of hundreds of paintings ranging from
waterfalls to waterfowl, African animals, North American wildlife, reptiles, butterflies and birds
of all kinds. He primarily used acrylic paint but also sketched, did scratch board and was well
known for his many witty cartoons. He published a cartoon book titled “OXYMORONS” (with
the pen name Mij Snave, his name spelled backwards) that has been the source of many
giggles and eye rolls for years. Art enthusiasts and former clients that have purchased his
paintings are selling his originals dating as far back as 1974 online today. This was
discovered after his death and he would’ve been thrilled to know that his art is seen as so
valuable in today’s market.
Grizzly was also an active member of Ducks Unlimited, Anglers United, the Elk Foundation,
Desert Bighorn Sheep Society and the Arizona Antelope Foundation. He entered the Federal
Duck Stamp competition twenty-three years in a row and donated hundreds of paintings to
these organizations as well as fundraisers in the Phoenix and Sedona areas for various
causes benefitting schools, people in need and local charities. He sold his first painting in
Arizona in the historic ghost town, Jerome in 1960. The painting is of the Jerome Jail and
was on display in the local museum for many decades. He was also known to give paintings
away to friends, local businesses and to the retirement communities he lived in.
Jim proudly worked for Motorola in the Government Electronics Division in Scottsdale,
Arizona as a Graphic Artist for 38 years retiring in 1998. He loved his job and worked on
projects such as the first Lunar Landing, the Supersonic Concord Transport, Missiles,
Bombs, and the IRIDIUM Satellite telephone system to name a few. Over the decades at
Motorola Jim rendered 300+ retirement cards for his colleagues and was sought after for
commissions not only on his original paintings but also for his cartoon caricatures.
What many don’t know about Jim is he had many ideas for inventions that he attempted to
patent including a silent garage door, skates that had one line of wheels instead of blades
(what are now known as roller blades) and an electronic/digital calendar back in the early
80’s. These ideas and designs came to him well before they were actually created and put
on the market from other inventors/companies. He had an idea called E.V.A.N.S., The
Emergency Vehicle Notification System, which is what “OnStar” became. He also created
Eyrie Homes, Totally Electronic Computerized Homes that he planned would be prefabricated like cars from recycled metals and would rest on a hydraulic system to rise above
floodwaters or lower into the ground to be safe from environmental threats such as
hurricanes, tornados and even forest fires. He was always inspired to come up with ideas
that were well ahead of his time and if he had the right connections and success in his
inventions he would surely have been a millionaire many times over.
Finally, where Jim was the most beloved and treasured was as a husband and father and
grandfather. He married Millie in 1966 when she already had five children. He adopted the
youngest, ironically sharing the same first name, and together Jim and Millie had one child of
their own. Jim loved all six of his children as if they were all his own. He cherished his large
family and was a decent, levelheaded, parent. His favorite recreation was trout fishing and
he passed the love and knowledge of that on to his children and grandchildren along with a
love for nature. All the men in his family still fish today. He was kind, mild mannered, gentle,
funny, strict, disciplined, gullible, so so talented, incredibly creative and ever loving. People
valued him as a friend and colleague. He had a heart that forgave but never forgot. He
defended and protected his wife Millie until the day she died, always by her side through life’s
many challenges and victories. He missed her every day for 14 years and spoke of her
beauty and talent always ready to show her photo in his wallet sharing his love for her with
anyone who would listen. He loved to tell stories of his childhood and always knew the
answers to questions about birds and butterflies. He was funny. He always had a joke or a
pun or “OxyMoron” ready to sketch since he always carried a note pad and pen. He was
totally devoted and loyal, was loved in Sedona for his quiet demeanor, sense of humor and
for his generosity in supporting his community and family. He will be greatly missed and
forever hold a special place in many hearts.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Leroy Evans, please visit our flower store.


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