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Richard E. ‘Richie’ Evans, former lacrosse player and political advance man who owned Towson’s The Crease, dies

Richard Evans was named to the Virginia Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2015.
Richard Evans was named to the Virginia Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2015. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Richard Edelen “Richie” Evans, a former lacrosse player whose Towson bar, The Crease, attracted a wide following, died of COVID-19 complications Friday at Kindred Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. The former Towson resident was 79.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Bosley Avenue in Towson, he was the son of Gustavus Warfield Evans, an Army lieutenant colonel, and his wife, Mary Frances Edelen, a homemaker. He was a 1960 graduate of the Gilman School and earned a degree at the University of Virginia. He played lacrosse at both schools.

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He was president of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and was named to the Virginia All-America lacrosse team. He later played for the Mount Washington Club and the U.S. all-star team in Toronto and Australia.

In a 1977 Sun article, Mr. Evans said he did not want to return to Baltimore after he finished college: “In those days, [Baltimore] was the type of city where you got a job with an insurance company and lived at home until you got married.”

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He settled in Washington, D.C., and worked on the campaigns of George McGovern, Jimmy Carter and Edmund Muskie.

“He was respected for being a political advance man, and he loved politics,” said his brother, John Gardiner “Gardy” Evans. “He was so well-liked. He was special in that regard.”

In 1968 he opened a Washington, D.C., bar, Aquarius, which he later renamed Sarsfield’s. It had Tiffany-style lamps, lively bartenders, a pinball machine and a jukebox.

A 1977 Washington Post article said he threw a Carter administration “transition bash” and served fried chicken and barbecued ribs, offered cut-rate drinks, and invited all the new Carter White House crew to drop by.

He had earlier been an advance man for the vice-presidential campaign of Maine Senator Muskie, who ran alongside Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 presidential campaign.

After that experience, Mr. Evans said, “I knew I could not sit behind a desk. I had to be out with people.”

By 1972 he returned to Baltimore to open The Crease on York Road in Towson. It later had a downtown branch in the old Morris A. Mechanic Theatre building. The bars took their names from the crease, a lacrosse term for the circle around the goal.

A 1982 Crease review said: “The [staff] is clean cut, well-scrubbed and preppy-looking as the alligator on Timothy Hutton’s favorite Izod shirt.”

A 1977 Sun profile said of Mr. Evans: “Now 36, the gregarious bachelor owns three bars in Washington, Towson and in downtown Baltimore where the dating game is pursued with gusto, both by his clientele and himself.”

His bars featured lively music.

“Richard was really into the early years of rock ‘n’ roll. He liked the music, and he knew who was doing it best,” said a friend from Gilman, J. Stanley Heuisler, who was later the editor of Baltimore Magazine.

“He understood the concept of manners, generosity, good goods and hospitality, and that’s what made him a great saloonkeeper,” Mr. Heuisler said. “There can be a lot of phoniness around being a celebrity host, but Richard approached it all with such sincerity I think you’d struggle to find anyone who didn’t like him.

“He was courtly. He had a superb sense of humor. He carried an enjoyable sense of fun around with him.”

The Sun’s 1977 article said he was leaving for Paris to prepare for President Carter’s visit to the French capital.

“A knack for diplomacy and public relations and providing a personal touch are essential,” Mr. Evans said. “How do get people to pick your restaurant out of thousands they could go to? They pick them because you make them feel more comfortable. ... How do get things accomplished on the campaign trail? You do it by working well with people.”

Mr. Evans, recalled as a jovial bon vivant, hosted infield parties at the Preakness Stakes.

“If you imbibe too heavily too early, you’re in trouble,” he warned in a 1979 Sun article. “That sun is hot. And if you are not used to the effect of the booze and the sun, by race time you won’t be able to see across the hedge.”

His other ventures include the Macaw’s in Jacksonville in Baltimore County. He also sold real estate.

“Richard was really two people: the man about town and the traditionalist. He balanced both well,” Mr. Heuisler said. “He could be fiercely competitive in life, business and sports, and he could be quietly respectful of friends and family and the institutions that had meant something to him.”

Mr. Heuisler also said: “He was always positive and very rarely judgmental. There are people in life who play hard and fair and whether they beat you or not you can smile with them afterwards. And if they are on your team, you celebrate.”

Mr. Evans was named to the Virginia Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2015.

“I remember seeing him still playing in an old-timers’ lacrosse game, at an age when most had already retired,” Mr. Heuisler said. “It was cool to see the way the younger players gave him so much respect.”

Mr. Evans was also a founder of the Bartenders Ball, a charity that benefited cystic fibrosis research.

“He was an amazing father who was loving and caring. He was strong and taught me the important values,” said his daughter, Brooke Evans Christianson of St. Pete Beach, Florida. “In the Ocean City Lacrosse Classic 20 years ago, he was the oldest player and I was the youngest.”

In addition to his brother and daughter, he is survived by another brother, Lee Evans of Charlottesville, Virginia, and a grandson, Jack Evans Christianson.

A life celebration is being planned.

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