(May 7, 1894 - July 3, 1976)
Iowa State Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, 1917; first African American veterinarian licensed in Texas; head of Department of Veterinary Medicine, President, and President-Emeritus at Prairie View A & M College (now University) of Texas.
Edward B. Evans II was born on May 7, 1894 in Kansas City, Missouri, son of Edward G. Evans I and Ada M. Howlett Evans. He grew up in Kansas City, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Galveston, Texas. The family moved back to Kansas City by 1910, and “Eddie” graduated from Lincoln High School in 1912. They lived a block from the Kansas City Veterinary School where Eddie met Dr. C.V. Lowe, a black veterinarian, who encouraged him to study veterinary medicine.
In the fall of 1914, Evans enrolled in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State College (now University). While at Iowa State, he joined the Veterinary Medical Society. During his years at Iowa State, Evans lived in various locations close to campus on Lincoln Way, Ash Avenue, Welch Ave., and Hyland. He graduated in 1918 with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Two weeks later, he was hired to join the staff at Prairie View State Normal Industrial College in Prairie View, Texas (a historically black college close to Houston) as professor of veterinary science. Although he was to stay with Prairie View A&M for 58 years, there was an immediate interruption. He took leave for four months to attend Officers Training School at Camp Lee, Virginia, and he received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps, Medical Section.
After the end of World War I, Dr. Evans returned to Prairie View and started his career by teaching courses in agriculture and animal diseases. He also had a strong interest in athletics and helped found the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 1920. In addition, he became the first black veterinarian to be licensed in the state of Texas. Over the years at Prairie View A&M, Dr. Evans served the college in many capacities. He expanded his teaching to include courses in veterinary medicine. He served in many administrative capacities including Director of Athletics, Acting Registrar, Coordinator of Instruction, Director of the Division of Agriculture, state leader of the Negro Extension Service of Texas (1941-1946), acting registrar, director of the School of Arts and Sciences, and Vice Principal. Evans also played an instrumental role in the design and construction of the Veterinary School on campus. He became acquainted with Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson who under his guidance also studied veterinary medicine at Iowa State and graduated with a DVM in 1923. Patterson eventually became president of Tuskegee Institute and the founder and leader of the United Negro College Fund. Evans and Patterson began a collaboration that eventually led to the establishment of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee in 1945. They were both described years later as “graced with innovative and creative minds and the unusual ability to grasp new ideas and break new paths for others to follow, (and) were years ahead of their time.” Evans served as the first Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee for the year 1946-1947. Also in 1947, he and Dr. Alfred Poindexter, also of Prairie View A&M, integrated the Texas Veterinary Association by joining the association.
When Evans returned to Prairie View A&M in 1947 from his year's sabbatical at Tuskegee, he was appointed as the eighth principal and was inaugurated on September 1. A year later, the Texas legislature changed the name of the school to Prairie View A&M College of Texas, and Evans's title was changed from principal to president. He served as president until his retirement in 1966.
During Evans's tenure, many changes and improvements came to Prairie View. He restructured the academic branches of the college to include the Schools of Agriculture, Arts and Sciences, Home Economics, Engineering, and Industrial Education and Technology. New buildings were constructed on campus including a $1 million Science Building and a $1.5 million Health and Physical Education Building. A new women's dormitory was completed in 1950, and a dormitory for men was constructed in 1952. Two additional dormitories, one for men and one for women, were built in 1955. The Gibb Gilchrist Engineering Building was built in 1952. A home economics building was added in 1957 and both the Memorial Student Center and the Harrington Science Building were completed in 1960. Also under Evans's leadership, the college was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1958.
In association with his presidential duties, Evans served as President of the Association of Negro Land Grant College Presidents in 1951-1952. At about that time, he also served as consultant and advisor to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Point Four Program for Pakistan, Egypt, and Ethiopia. He traveled to these three countries to review rinderpest eradication programs. In March of 1953, he testified on his findings to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. In 1969, he visited ten African countries for the Economic Commission for Africa and later became Texas Consul for the Republic of Senegal.
Dr. Evans retired as President-Emeritus from Prairie View A&M in 1966. An appreciation retirement dinner in his honor was attended by over 400 people and with a testimonial from Texas Governor John B. Connolly. Evens and his wife Canzetta chose to continue living in Prairie View where he stayed busy with many community activities, including his election to the City Council in 1971. He received a number of honors through the years including Phi Kappa Phi (national honor scholastic society), the Hoblitzelle Award for contributions in the field of rural development and the Texas State Teachers Association Award for his work in Africa. He was posthumously inducted into the Prairie View A&M University Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Texas Heritage Hall of Honor at the Texas State Fair in 1992.
Dr. Evans married Lucille Oscar Lewis in 1920, and they had two children, Ada Louise and Edward B. Evans, III. After Lucille's death in 1958, Dr. Evans married Canzetta Riles sometime after 1966. Dr. Edward B. Evans, Sr. died on July 3, 1976 at Prairie View and was interred in Prairie View Cemetery.
Biographical sources on the life and career of Dr. Edward B. Evans, Sr. include Henry C. Dethloff and Donald H. Dyal, A Special Kind of Doctor: A History of Veterinary Medicine in Texas. College Station, TX. Texas A & M University Press, 1991, p. 116; Henry C. Dethloff, Texas A & M University: A Pictorial History, 1876-1996. College Station, TX. Texas A & M University Press, 1996, p. 61; The Sphinx (publication of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity), Volume 62, Fall, 1976, pp. 70; Eugene W. Adams, “A Historical Overview of African American Veterinarians in the United States: 1889-2000,” Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, Volume 31, Number 4, 2004, pp. 410-412; and in “Dr. Evans Inaugurated As Prairie View Prexy,” The Battalion (College Station, TX), December 3, 1948, p. 1.
His statement to the U. S. House of Representatives, which includes biographical information, is found in “Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs House of Representatives Eighty-Third Congress First Session on H. R. 5710. Washington, D. C. U. S. Government Printing Office, 1953, pp. 874-877.
Other online sources include those for Iowa State University, Prairie A & M University, the National Park Service, and the State Fair of Texas Heritage Hall of Honor. Family information from Public Member Trees; the U. S. Censuses for 1900, 1910, 1930, and 1940; and news and obituary articles were all found at ancestryinstitution.com. The reference to Texas Governor John B. Connolly was found in The Brookshire (TX) Times, September 8, 1966, p. 1. The obituaries were from the Tyler (TX) Courier-Times, July 4, 1976, p. 30; The Eagle (Bryan, TX), July 7, 1976, p. 3; and the Galveston (TX) Daily News, July 7,1976, p. 2.
Iowa State University sources include The Bomb 1917, with a photo and essay on the Veterinary Medical Society and in The Bomb 1918 with a photo of Evans on page 458 which can both be found in the Special Collections Department, Iowa State University. Information about Evans's various places of residence in Ames from 1914-1918 were found in the Student Directories from those years, also in Special Collections.
Iowa State University’s HBCU Connections: http://hbcuconnections.iastatedigital.org/Edward_B._Evans