Joe D. Evans, a retired Harford County high school principal and model train collector, died of cancer April 10 at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Street resident was 70.
Mr. Evans was born in Carbondale, Pa., and moved with his family to Baltimore in 1943. They later moved to Jarrettsville, and in 1955, he graduated from North Harford High.
After graduating from what is now Salisbury University in 1959 with a bachelor's degree in education, he began teaching science and mathematics at Edgewood High School.
In 1962, he moved to Corvallis, Ore., where he earned a master's degree in education from Oregon State University. He resumed teaching at Edgewood in the fall of 1963.
When Edgewood Middle School opened in 1964, Mr. Evans was appointed vice principal, a position he held until he was named assistant principal at North Harford High.
He was principal of North Harford High School from 1973 until 1990, when he retired.
"I had taught him when he was in the 10th grade and then he became my boss. As a principal, he was always No. 1, and a friend to all," said June L. Atkin, who retired 21 years ago from North Harford, where she had taught English and social studies.
"Joe ran the school with compassion and not an iron hand and his teachers knew not to fear him. He was always generous with his time, and teachers knew they had his ear and could speak very frankly with him," Mrs. Atkin said.
Mr. Evans also had a reputation for standing behind his faculty even during times of change.
"When the school board mandated some changes, I told him I was going to keep on teaching English grammar, and he said, 'Go right ahead, June,' " Mrs. Atkin said.
"Joe Evans was one of the really good guys. He was the epitome of what a boss should be, and I know the expression 'people person' is overused, but that's exactly what he was," said Dick Metzgar, former assistant principal at North Harford High.
"Being a principal is a tough job. You have to please the faculty, students and parents, and Joe was always able to do that. He maintained an open-door policy for all. You could talk to him anytime about anything," he said.
Troubled students also benefited from his understanding.
"It's easy to suspend a student for four or five days, but the hard part is finding out what's bothering them and to try and help them change," Mr. Metzgar said.
"He didn't like suspending a student, and if they needed special help, he'd work with them. He believed in individualized instruction if needed," Mrs. Atkin said.
"I didn't know one person who didn't like Joe," Mr. Metzgar said. And when he retired, it just wasn't the same. I know the show goes on, but people truly missed him."
Mr. Evans was president of the Maryland State Principal's Association from 1982 to 1983.
After retiring, Mr. Evans took a part-time job as an office worker at Clark Sales & Service Inc. in Dublin until 2005.
A rail fan, Mr. Evans enjoyed collecting Lionel trains and at his death was building a large permanent layout in a spare bedroom.
"At Christmas, he'd always build a special layout. He loved to build model rail cars and go to shows. He also had collected thousands of railroad books and tapes," said his wife of 47 years, the former Elizabeth A. Snodgrass.
Mr. Evans was a Sunday school teacher at Emory United Methodist Church in Street, where services were held Saturday.
Also surviving are two sons, Christopher J. Evans of Mercer, Pa., and Timothy S. Evans of Rising Sun; two daughters, Mary Beth Dougherty of Pylesville and Melissa A. Evans of Conowingo; two brothers, Gilbert Evans of Forest Hill and Jack Evans of Littlestown, Pa.; and five grandchildren.