Engineer of Change Print
Written by Eric McHenry   
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Engineer of Change
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Dan Evans on…

Educating the baby-boomers:
As a legislator and as governor, I kept talking to my department heads and others about understanding demography. … And so we saw this bulge coming. The very first thing that I advocated and we got through were big bond issues for school-building construction. That was followed by the community college system and the Evergreen State College. And we also had… boy, the University of Washington would die if it got the kind of increases we got for it back then. In one session, 1967, I think we got a 22 or 23 percent increase, all for the same reasons. We needed that expansion. … And then people worked together pretty well. There wasn’t a whole lot of partisanship because everybody knew what the problems were. There was no differential between Republicans and Democrats to any degree about the need for supporting common school education.

President Bush:
I supported George W. Bush in his first election campaign, strongly. He advertised himself as a compassionate conservative. And I said, “That’s a pretty good combination.” So I was really enthused, and then, ultimately, really disappointed—not just because of Iraq, but because the conservatives who grabbed hold manned all of the politically sensitive positions in the departments and in the White House, and they were ruthless. And it didn’t serve the president well, and it certainly didn’t serve the country well. … So I hope we have—I have to use a term I don’t like very much, but I’ll suppose I’ll use it—I hope our next president has a broader bandwidth. …. When you run for office, you run as a representative of a party. When you’re elected to office you’re elected to govern all the people. You can bring your philosophies to bear, but don’t use the philosophies to divide people. Use the philosophies to bring them together.

His wife, Nancy Bell Evans:
Nancy always has been an absolutely superb partner. She was much better than I was in the early stages of our campaign. She mixed better than I did, was more gregarious. … The day of my first inauguration, I was already in Olympia, and she came down that morning. She left our house in Laurelhurst, packed the station wagon, had two kids with her. Our house was on a hill, and as she started up the hill, the back door of the station wagon fell open and her ball gown and everything just fell out the back. Neighbors shouted at her, and she had to stop and pick all that up. And when she got down to Olympia, we found that it was not only the inaugural ceremony but a big luncheon afterwards and then two receptions and then the governor’s ball and then a late-night party at the mansion. And interspersed with all of that was a live broadcast from the mansion, with a tour. Chuck Herring was the KING-TV newscaster, and almost the first question he asked was, “Well, Mrs. Evans, at age 32 you must be the youngest first lady in the state’s history.” And Nancy just looked at him, and said, “I’m not 32, I’m 31.” It was a marvelous start to the whole thing. And then she led them through, and she talked with such authority about all of the rooms and furniture and artwork in the mansion. We got done, and I said, “Nancy, we’ve only been here for about four hours. How did you know all that stuff?” And she said, “Well, I paid attention when I came over here for teas that were being held under Governor Rossellini. I just listened.”

Grandfatherhood:
We’ve got nine grandchildren and they’re all terrific. And of course the name continues, because Dan and Celia’s youngest child is named Daniel Jackson Evans III. But he refuses to go by Dan. It got too complicated. So he chose. He said, “I’m Jackson.” And you can’t call him Jack.