When I arrived at the University of Arizona in September 1955, I was fresh out of four years service in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, where I had been a Naval journalist.
I was about five years older than most of my classmates and had been granted sophomore standing in the class of 1958, primarily because of my Naval journalist training, which included an intensive three-month course at the Navy’s journalist School at Great Lakes, Illinois. Our instructors there had included professors from the nearby Northwestern University Medill School of journalism.
While serving as a Naval journalist on admirals’ staffs, first in the then-Territory of Alaska and later aboard seven different aircraft carriers in the western Pacific, I wrote stories about things happening in the Navy and about Navy people to send to their hometown newspapers. I also got to take photos of erupting volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula while leaning out of the window of a Navy PBY. Some of them were printed in newspapers all over the world.
So life as a student studying journalism at the UofA was somewhat different than what I had been used to. But I soon found that age and previous experience really didn’t matter all that much when working on the Wildcat news staff, which was required of all journalism majors at that time.
And the department heads, Doug Martin my first year and Brewster Campbell the next two years, were a pair of grizzled old newsmen and editors from the Detroit Free Press who had a unique ability to teach us what it took to become top notch journalists.
We worked and learned together, and when I was fortunate to be selected as editor-in-chief of the twice weekly 1957-58 Wildcat, I had no trouble in putting together an outstanding editorial staff, including Bob Crawford, Rosalie Robles Crowe, Bill Birch, George Kaine, and Iris Cloudt. We developed friendships that have lasted over the years.
In 2008, at the 50th reunion of my class, six members of my staff got together once again to reminisce about those weekly Monday and Wednesday night labs in the basement of the Liberal Arts building when we edited copy, wrote headlines, and laid out pages – and then crawled out of the window to take the dummies down to the print shop. Then we spent Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the printers proofing the typeset copy and overseeing (as much as we could) the page makeups by the printers.
My career as a newsman actually lasted only six more years, but in that time I was a reporter for the Tucson Citizen; reporter for United Press International in San Francisco and Helena, Montana, and UPI’s bureau manager in Anchorage, Alaska; and finally, managing editor of Alaska’s then second largest daily, the Anchorage News, which I had the good fortune of being able to change from an afternoon to morning publication and then adding the state’s first Sunday edition.
In 1964 I moved to Juneau to get married and to become a special assistant to Alaska’s first governor, serving as press secretary, speech writer, legislative assistant, and jack of all trades. Then, in 1967, I came back to the UofA to get a law degree, graduating in 1970 and returning to Juneau to begin a legal career from which I retired in 2008. Now I “work” for my wife, the hardest job I have ever had!
Gordon E. Evans’ impressive career has taken him from journalism to law to politics and public service. A Douglas, Ariz., native and long-time Alaska resident, Gordon retired from private practice as an attorney in Juneau in 2008 but not before distinguishing himself at every stop.
After graduating from the UA with his journalism degree in 1958, he began a six-year stint as a newsman, first with the Tucson Daily Citizen before joining United Press International where he became Alaska Bureau Manager in 1961. He then joined the Anchorage Daily News as managing editor from 1962 to 1964 when he was picked to serve as special assistant to Alaska Gov. William Egan. He served as press secretary and speech writer and coordinated the governor’s appointments to boards and commissions, among other duties, from 1964-1970.
Gordon earned his law degree from the UA in 1970 and, in addition to practicing law for the next 38 years, mostly in Juneau, he held numerous public service and political positions. He served on the University of Alaska Board of Regents from 1983-1991, including a term as the board’s president. He was member of the Alaska Post Secondary Education Commission and also of the University of Alaska Foundation Board of Trustees, among other educational posts. In 2001 Gordon received the Alaska Bar Association Board of Governors’ Professionalism Award.
Long active in Democratic politics, Gordon was state chairman of the Alaska Democratic Party and a member of the Democratioc National Committee. He served as a delegate to the Democratic national party conventions in 1964 and 1976.
Gordon served in the U.S. Navy for four years before attending the UA. He was editor of the Wildcat in 1957-58 and received the Donald Still Award for his achievements.