Letters & Notes
A Remembrance of John Evans.
Shortly after I met John Evans in 1984 he offered to help me resolve a personal problem I was having at the time. We met frequently and would walk and walk together for 10 or 12 blocks on the way to his office, then on Second Avenue, and mine a few blocks further on. The pace of the walk was brisk and John's monologue even brisker. But at each corner, if the pedestrian signal said "Don't Walk," we would stop and wait for the light to change. In New York no pedestrian stops just because the signal says "Don't Walk." I asked John why he, of all people, was behaving so oddly by waiting on the curb. His reply: "A few years ago, when I was having problems similar to yours a very wise man told me that one of the ways I could resolve them was to begin to follow the rules. It has always been difficult for me to do this, but he told me I should make a start by obeying at least one rule - the 'Don't Walk' sign. It was really quite valuable for a while, gave me lots of time to think things through while I stood on the corner like an idiot as the rest of New York City rushed past me. I don't do it much any more, but when I do I'm remind how following the rules was so valuable at one stage in my life". I understood that John was pretty horrible at following most rules, and I always thought this accounted for much of his genius and his success; but I'll never forget the "Don't Walk" lesson and once in awhile I still stop for a "Don't Walk" sign. Whenever I do I think of John and how following some rules makes all the difference.
|Brendan Lane Larson|
I'll never forget how I first came into contact with John B. Evans. It was mid-March of 1992 when I will never forget reading the Wall Street Journal article which reported Rupert's appointment of John to head up News Electronic Data (NED). At that time I was working for an NBC-TV affiliate in the U.S. Midwest as an on-camera meteorologist during the mornings. During the evenings, I produced The Weather Page for the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper and I was also writing object-oriented weather analysis software during my evenings for a small company I had started called WeatherLabs. The software I was writing was based on a NeXT computer which used the then cutting edge NeXTSTEP operating system (NeXT being Steve Jobs' second company which he started in the late 1980s after leaving Apple which is the ancestor to the ever popular Mac OS X software that now runs on sleek iMacs, etc.). In the Wall Street Journal article, John was quoted and he stated that it was important to include weather information in the NED suite of planned services for "hand held devices". I immediately thought to myself, "This is great! Someone who appreciates the importance of weather in our lives. I need to call this guy!" The next day (I think it was March 14th) I called John's office in Manhattan and spoke with Jan Ruffle who left a message for John. John had no clue who I was but he called me back the following day. I told him about the WeatherLabs software and he immediately picked up on my high energy and before I knew it, Jan had us scheduled for a meeting at the Berghoff restaurant on Adams in downtown Chicago about two monts later. I was just a kid at the time, in my mid-20s and with a tiny little company. When we had lunch, I was at first quite on edge being with this larger-than-life person who reported to Rupert, but swiftly as the conversation flowed, I felt at ease as John started telling me about navigation (using street maps and dead reckoning - about the time when he convinced Rupert to buy Etak) and about this company called General Magic. As a bright eyed bushy tailed kid, I felt as if I was listening to a fairy tale (and anyone who ever spent some time with John knows just how eloquent he was with his words and how he could truly captivate his audience!). At one point I remember telling John something like, "WeatherLabs is a young company" and his response was (paraphrased), "I really don't care what your age is" -- I was flabbergasted. Before I knew it, a few months later John dispatched Rick Lamb to my office in the suburbs of Chicago (Rick's role seemed to be that of keeping John in checks and balances) and the journey continued from there, which later included my first trip to Manhattan in which John's limo driver (Bengt Brinyaldson (spelling?)) picked me up at Newark and proceeded to tell me some hilarious stories about John; and I'll never forget how Marilyn was always there to relay my incessant energy-filled messages on to the NED staff (including accepting my phone calls in which I would tease the New Jersey staff about big Nor'Easter snowstorms which was a nuisance to most people but a joy for a meteorologist to track and follow!). Perhaps the most memorable moment I have of John was at the Hotel Macklowe in February 1993 when General Magic had its launch party. Not only did John welcome my attendence, but he also welcomed me to bring my Grandfather who was on the Board of Directors of WeatherLabs (note: my Grandfather passed away in January of this year). Truly, John was an amazing person who understood the importance of elders providing business wisdom and guidance to youth! WeatherLabs and NED eventually went separate ways as the Internet caused enormous business disruption to just about every business entity on the planet, and later I moved WeatherLabs to San Francisco where it eventually was sold (unsolicited) to The Weather Channel in 2000. Thank you, John, for believing in me when I was just a kid, for the big break you gave me in the early 1990s and most of all for your care and humanity! The future success of humankind to cohabitate peacefully on Earth will no doubt increasingly require more mentors and people like John to believe in youth who demonstrate that burning desire to succeed and kick tail! -Brendan Lane Larson (September 2004)
Thanks for keeping the website up. I miss John.
One day near the end of 1969, the sailboat I was on a boat which pulled into a marina in Gibraltar (yes, at the bottom of Spain). Coming over to greet us was the crew of a 90 food teak schooner called Joyette. Among them was John, the First Mate. It was love at first sight – I never knew that could happen, but it did. We were young – I was pretty and John was handsome. He wanted to teach me all about sailing. Things like the proper knots to use, the names of the sails, etc. We sailed together for the next three years, mostly in the Spanish Balearic Islands, Gibralto, Morocco living on various boats, making our living by varnishing and painting and other odd jobs at various marinas and sometimes by chartering. In 1972 we sailed across the Atlantic on the schooner Orianda, owned by a Frenchman and his Finish wife and their 4 year old boy, Jory. Soon Jory was with John and me all the time – John had a way with kids. And when we finally left the boat in the Caribbean islands, Jory threatened to tie us to the mast and not let us go. It was a wonderful, carefree time. No money, few worries and sailing constantly. In August of 1972 we came to New York, up the Hudson River to the 79th Street Boat Basin, aboard a 72 foot motor boat named Nepenthe. After we were paid for our work by the owner, we left the boat and moved into a little Greenwich Village apartment to make a new life – one with jobs, some money and the eventual purchase of Vamp, our 40 foot fiberglass sloop. We married in 1973 – a very small event at city hall with one witness. John got a job in an advertising agency while I worked in a psychiatric rehabilitation facility. Real paychecks – what a wonderful thing. We lived in Manhattan, a place we both loved, until 1982 when we moved onto Vamp and moved her to New Rochelle. Our first winter was brutal – ice around the boat, a heater than didn’t work well, having to trip up the dock every morning in work clothes. All in all, not a very nice experience. Spring came and John and I went our separate ways – John to a new boat and new life and me eventually to Maine. The twelve years that we spent together were never boring, often exhilarating, frequently funny with many friends and adventures galore. I did not see John much after we ended – but we sometimes spoke by phone and sometimes I’d come home from work and find a note from some exotic place, like Kuala Lumpur – made me chuckle. I’ve never forgotten John and I never will – a piece of my heart still loves him and I’m sorry he’s no longer in this world. Katie Evans
|Adrienne (Adi) Dempsey|
John would have turned 70 on Jan. 26th of this year. How I wish he were still here with us to celebrate that special day. It's hard to believe he's been gone almost four years. I still think of him everyday.
I first met John in 1985 through a mutual friend. Two days later he phoned me to ask if I could meet the phone company at his house . He had just moved to Franklin Township here in N.J. and was setting up house. Thus began my many years of caring for his house, his animals and later his sweet daughter Morgan and stepdaughter Sarah.
It was a privilege to have known him and I have many fond memories of our times together. Mostly, I think of his great story telling. What an interesting life he had. One that sticks in my mind is when he was a young boy he worked for a farmer collecting acorns to feed to the pigs. Anyone who knew John would get a laugh picturing him doing that. I'm not sure if many people know this, but he was a great cook. His vegetable stew, cooking on his beloved Aga, was legendary. He'd send me home with Ziploc bags of it which was always appreciated. He made delicious rice pudding in the Aga that would cook for hours and when I once told him his homemade vanilla ice cream was the best I ever had, his blue eyes sparkled with pride.
I miss everything about John Evans. I miss his sweet animals. Oliver, Annie, George, Amber and Samantha. All of them now gone from my life. He would have been so proud of his daughter Morgan. She will turn 13 in March. What a beautiful, smart, sweet girl she is. Mostly, that's what I miss. Seeing John with Morgan. She was the best thing that ever happened to him. I made sure I told her that. John was a world traveler. A man who met more interesting people than I could ever hope to. None of them could have compared to what Morgan meant to him. That's what hurts the most. That Morgan lost him. That John will never get to see how the rest of her life turns out. Her first date, her prom, her college graduation, her marriage, her children.
I miss you John. Morgan misses you. We all loved you. Thank you for adding so much to our lives. You will never be forgotten, I hope somehow you know that.
Adrienne (Adi) Dempsey
This note comes several years after John's death. I was going through stacks of old photos and videotapes recently, and found among them a tape from a sailing trip in April 1987. We had gone to the Carribean on Ben's very large boat, Zorra, with our then girlfriends, Mary and Yong. It was a terrific trip. By that time I had left Murdoch magazines for a career in television. I was Art Director of Baltimore's "City Paper" when I met John in 1981. He was one of several people who interviewed me for a job at "The Village Voice." Not that the conversation we had was anything approaching an interview. I saw the sailing poster on his office wall when I walked in and asked him about it. We spent the next hour talking sailing. At that point I hadn't ever been on anything larger than my 14' Laser, but sailing is sailing is sailing. Three weeks later we were colleagues. John had a profound effect on my life, both professionally and personally. He shepherded me into the world of News Corporation, which would be my work home for 15 years. We worked together at The Voice and Murdoch Magazines until 1985. Along the way there were numerous sailing trips. He looked after me like a kind uncle, and I regret that I never truly appreciated all the good things he did for me. Even after leaving MM, we kept in touch. He came to my wedding, and later took me, my wife, and our year-old daughter sailing (of course). I last saw him in Los Angeles in the early 90s. He was excited about the work he was doing with Steven Spielberg, charging ahead to his next adventure. While I hadn't talked to him in a couple years, he was still the same: completely engaging and a complete joy to talk to. How different my life might have been had I not left Murdoch Magazines and his daily company. He was an amazing man.