The bench sits between Joe Wolfe Field and Haskins School. The city provided a red maple tree and a second bench, in the back, was presented to Evans' family. See more photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Family and classmates of the late William "Billy" Evans gathered on Sunday morning to memorialize the late U.S. Capitol Police office, with the sounds of cheers and the cracks of bats in the background.
The Drury High School graduate had played for years at Joe Wolfe Field and the wooden bench installed in his honor by the Drury High class of 1998 offers a view of the field.
"My hope is that many residents sit down on this bench read the 'in memory of' plaque, and thank Billy for his service and sacrifice," said Kristi Armstrong, a classmate and one of the organizers of the event. "This location was strategically picked, as we wanted it to overlook the first base side of the baseball park where Billy played here throughout high school, while also having a beautiful view of the mountains."
Evans, 41, was one of two officers struck on April 2 when a man rammed his car into them at a barrier on the north side of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., then got out and lunged at officers with a knife. He was shot and killed. Evans was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. A North Adams native who later grew up in Clarksburg, he was laid to rest next to his father, Howard, in Bellevue Cemetery in Adams.
Evans' sister, Julie Evans Kucyn, said her family was touched by the number of people attending Sunday's event and the turnout at the golf tournament on Saturday at the Stamford (Vt.) Golf Course for the Billy Evans Memorial Scholarship.
"I love that there's going to be a tangible reminder of Billy at someplace that was so important to him throughout his childhood. And it's fitting that it's a bench because he spent a lot of his time sitting on the bench," she said, adding the family had gotten to calling it a "benchwarming ceremony" to laughter. "It was really helpful for him to be both an equally committed ballplayer and band player, but that was him, he never put too much emphasis on one aspect of his life, things that were important to him were important to him and he made it work.
"That was totally true in adulthood as well. He wasn't just a Capital Police officer he was, you know, a full-time board game geek and a committed lover of superhero movies and truly the biggest kid and the best dad that he ever could be."
Classmates and local officials spoke of a man who was a loyal friend, a Star Wars fanatic, a family man, a standout athlete, a Red Sox fan, a dedicated officer, a prankster and a hero. He also was not one for tributes, so the class members discussed the best way to remember him.
They decided on the bench, crafted by Harold Thomas, with a dedication plaque at Noel Field Athletic Complex and a red maple tree, provided by the city, to shade it. A second bench created by Marcel Potvin was presented to Evans' mother, Janice, with classmate Michael Bua doing the presenting.
"Let's be honest, what Billy would want would be absolutely nothing," Armstrong said. "So my apologies Billy, we have honored zero of your wishes."
Ryan Marlow, a close friend of Evans and president of the class, recalled how he'd been sitting at one of the nearby benches when Evans hit him with a baseball.
"I have a permanent imprint of stitches on my leg from him being overthrown at first base and it hurt really bad," he laughed. "I think would be perfect if I got hit with a baseball today."
More seriously, he spoke of how he and Evans had similar careers in different federal agencies. "We both took to honor the same oath every day of our lives, just in different ways," he said. "We all came together today to pay tribute to these gifts here to our brother Bill. Let this bench and tree here be reminders to all of you what you're capable of and everything Billy was able to accomplish in far too short a time on this Earth."
Kyle King, also a Capitol officer, offered a Billy "dad joke," describing him as the "natural bridge" between the North Berkshires and the District of Columbia and how connected he was to his roots here.
"When we brought Billy home, we made that connection for one last time," he said. "A group of about 40 of us from Capitol Police came up for his funeral in various roles ... All of them — all of them were blown away by what Berkshire County did for Billy to come home. They were all amazed [by the turnout for the procession]. ... One of the [motorcycle escorts] said, 'I almost fell off my bike when we turned down the Main Street.' That was Billy's connection."
Dabbing his eyes, King said the tribute was a fitting gesture to keep the connection going: "Well done, class of '98, well done."
Rebecca Boland McConnell recalled how they had been childhood friends at Greylock School and reconnected when they both attended Drury.
"He was the same jovial, kind-hearted boy I'd always known him to be," she said. Their group of friends would hang out at his house playing video games and later, when she and her husband were expecting their first child, Evans, a young father himself, reached out to offer advice and helpful tips.
"I will never forget that message. It was simply Billy being Billy," McConnell said. "What a blessing to us to be have known him. Cliche as it is, everyone should be so lucky to have a Billy Evans in their lives."
Armstrong said she had gotten to know Evans better after college and through social media, where they could converse on "real-life stuff"; Carl Jenkins, the longtime Drury band director, said Evans was a great person and that they would all take a piece of Billy with them. Sara Luczynski read a poem written by classmate Allison Dupuis Johns; Duston Norcross talked about how Evans easily fit into Clarksburg School.
"He was just really part of all of the 'quote unquote' cliques, and the same was true in high school," he said. "He was a band geek and a chess nerd, he was a jock. He got along with every single person that I can think of at our school, because he was all-around he was great in everything that he did."
State Rep. John Barrett III, mayor when Evans graduated in 1998, said his class was the "happiest bunch." And while Evans became part of the national discourse, he said, "it was more important that he was part of this community. He was loved, his family was loved, and it should be remembered in his short walk through life, he gave back so others could live."
The dedication took place only a few hours before the start of the 65th annual Fall Foliage Parade, which Evans would have marched as a trumpeter in the Drury band.
"We're here because of a life that was tragically cut short, a life dedicated to duty and to service," said Mayor Thomas Bernard. "And I don't think it's an exaggeration and overstating to say that that commitment to duty and service was nurtured here in North Adams, and in the Northern Berkshires. ...
"I think it's important that this homecoming that we're celebrating today is at a time and on a day that is traditionally a day of homecoming for people in North Adams for members of our community."
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My choice for mayor of North Adams is Jennifer Macksey.
I did not make this decision lightly or without thorough thought and analysis. For over 23 years, I have practiced law at my office across the street from City Hall and have been acutely interested in the direction our mayors have led this city. North Adams has the good fortune of having 2 worthy candidates to vote for this fall but only one will get my vote.
I have known Jennifer for over 20 years and have had numerous interactions with her both professionally and personally. As a result, I am convinced as to her outstanding character, decisiveness and leadership abilities. She has always been responsive, reasonable, and willing to make tough decisions by tackling them head-on.
However, it is Jennifer's vast work experience and commitment to excellence that sets her apart. Her recent positions stand out as a testament that she is immensely qualified to be our mayor. While working as tax collector, at Southern Vermont College and at MCLA, Jen has had a history of managing personnel and personalities. As mayor, her educational experience as both an instructor and an administrator will serve her as the chairperson of the School Committee.
She is experienced in long-term planning initiatives, overseeing budgets and finances for multiple entities and is very familiar with employee compensation, negotiating contracts, worker benefits, insurance contracts, bidding procedures, state and federal compliance and dealing with bargaining units. She has acted in a supervisory capacity and is familiar with the inner workings and realities of city government from her previous position as treasurer and CFO of North Adams.
Please join me in voting for Macksey as our next mayor on Nov. 2.
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