Thomas R. Evans (1918/08/09)

"Tall handsome and good natured, Bob is a combination of football player and actor, and has maintained both roles," stated the 1914 Santa Cruz High School Trident yearbook.

Thomas Roy Evans was born in Grants Pass, Oregon, on December 19, 1894, and was nicknamed "Bob" after a famous US admiral. Following a brief relocation to San Jose, the family moved to Santa Cruz where his father worked in the County Assessor's office. Young Evans attended the local Congregational Church with his mother and younger brother Robert; he was active in the Sunday school and the St. Paul's young men's class.

"Bob" Evans was one of the most popular boys to graduate from Santa Cruz High School in the class of 1914, noted the school yearbook. In addition to being a good student he was active in the social affairs of Phi Delta Kappa fraternity and served as the captain of the football team.

After leaving high school, Evans worked with several surveying crews before finding employment with Towne and Dixon in their grocery business. A year before enlisting in the service he decided to take up work in the commercial sign business under the tutelage of sign artist Roy Hammond.

The military entered Evans' life in June 1917 with his draft registration. He was described as being tall, of medium stature with gray eyes and light brown hair. In July 1917 he volunteered for active service, was assigned to the Aviation Corps signal section and sent to Berkeley for his initial training. Upon completing a training course in flying at the aviation grounds at Grand Island in San Diego, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and sent to the Canal Zone. The Star & Herald of Colon, Panama, Canal Zone in their edition of August 9, 1918, described the fatal event that claimed Evans life.

“Shortly after 9:45 this morning Lieut. Thomas R. Evans and Corporal George E. Semsey left the areo base at Fort Sherman and ascended into the air, flying around and rising to a height of about 3,000 feet. A short while after, they began circling and descending, and when they were something under 2,000 feet the machine was seen to make a sudden plunge and dived head first into the sea. The machine fell inside the breakwater, about a mile from Fort de Lesseps. No time was lost in sending help from all directions. It was found that the plane had sunk into the sea.”

The body of Thomas Roy "Bob" Evans was returned to Santa Cruz for a large funeral held at the Congregational Church on September 10, 1918. Local dignitaries filled the pews and the old Civil War veterans of the community served as an honor guard to say goodbye. The remains of Thomas Roy Evans, age twenty-four, were buried at Santa Cruz Memorial Park.

(CAG; WWIDR; SCSf August 10, 1918 3:4; SCSn Sept 11, 1918 5:4; Santa Cruz County Burial Permits 1905-1938, Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz Cnty, 2001

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1910s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-EVANS


Nelson, Robert L. “Thomas R. Evans (1918/08/09).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.