Former 21st Ward Alderman Jesse J. Evans has passed away at the age of 83.
Evans’ son and family spokesman, Karriem Muhammad said, “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce his death.”
Born in 1937 in Helena, Arkansas, Evans married his high school sweetheart Betty J. Cobbs in 1959 and was a devoted father and husband. The couple was married for 61 years.
Evans moved with his family to Chicago at an early age, in his adult years becoming a respected community activist. His career in politics began when he took on the role of block club president and shortly thereafter, successfully managed two precincts within the 21st Ward.
Evans’ leadership skills, with encouragement from the community, prompted him to run for 21st Ward alderman in the mid-80s. On his first attempt to win a political office, he came in third. On his second attempt at political office, he won by the slim margin of 14 votes. Following his victory news reports read: “Postal clerk beats the Democratic machine.”
In 1997, Evans and a group of African-American aldermen in Chicago became targets and victims of the infamous “Operation Silver Shovel” political probe which ended his political career.
He was highly regarded for his dedication, and compassion for his family and the residents of the 21st Ward.
Evans served the 21st Ward from 1987 to 1997. Prior to his aldermanic role, he worked for the United States Postal Service for several years. He also served as an auditor for the State of Illinois.
Jesse Evans died November 17 at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park. He had suffered a stroke in 2008 which led to additional health challenges he never fully overcame.
He is survived by his wife, Betty J. Evans; two sons, Karriem Muhammad and Ronnie J. Walker; a granddaughter, A’nesha Shaheed; and many great-grandchildren.
Alderman Evans was a lifelong Christian and lifetime member of Third Baptist Church on 95th Street and Ashland.
A wake will be held Friday, November 27 at 1:00 p.m. followed by the funeral service at 2:00 p.m. at Leak and Sons Funeral Home, 7838 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago, IL.
A GoFundMe page has been established by the family of Alderman Evans to help defray funeral expenses.