David C. Evans, the legendary entrepreneur who founded one of Utah's most successful start-up companies, Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp., logged off for the final time Friday as chairman of the computer graphics and work stations company he launched in 1968.
But there will be no rocking chair for the 67-year-old Evans, who ran with his sons last month in a marathon race in Des Moine, Iowa. He and his wife, Joy, will leave later this month for a leadership mission to Nashville, Tenn., for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Evans, who has garnered dozens of honors and who has stood as an example of high achievement to generations of Utahns, was scheduled to be honored in retirement ceremonies with his employees Friday afternoon at the University of Utah 3rd LDS Stake Building and again, with longtime friends and family, at a dinner scheduled Friday evening at University Park Hotel.
As many as 800 E&S employees were expected at the 4 p.m. ceremonies in which company co-founder Ivan Sutherland was scheduled to be master of ceremonies. The program also includes a video tape of the company's history, a slide show assembled by Evans' brother, Wayne Evans, and remarks by Rodney S. Rougelot, E&S president and chief executive officer.
Jack Halverson was scheduled to review Evans' long and successful career that has created a $130 million a year company, and Susan Mickelsen, vice president of corporate relations and an Evans associate for 20 years, would present a photo album and book of remembrances to him. Mickelsen said the company has received some 150 letters from friends and associates recalling past associations and excerpts were to be read from those.
The video includes recollections from first customers of the company, former students of Evans when he was a professor at the University of Utah, his former mentors and remembrances of his service in World War II. Pete Gibbs, a roommate of Evans when both were Ph.D. candidates, recalled Evans' service in France.
"We were a little concerned about Dave when they went into champagne country," said Gibbs. "Dave preferred to shave with the champagne and drink the water."
Evans was born in Salt Lake City. He left the U. of U. for the army when war broke out in Europe and spent five years "in the thick of it," said Mickelsen. After the war, he returned home, was married, and finished his doctorate.
He then went to work for Bendix Computer Corp. as part of the team that developed the G20, one of the first commercially viable computer products. He spent some 20 years at Bendix and then, in the early '60s, went to the University of California at Berkeley where his career as teacher and mentor began.
"A number of his students at Berkeley and the U. of U. have become world leaders in computer graphics," said Mickelsen. "Many went on to head departments at universities and have their own companies, both in the U.S. and abroad."
After three years at Berkeley as professor of electrical engineering, Evans was recruited by James Fletcher and Dale Harris at the U. of U. College of Engineering to
head a new computer science department at the university. Evans returned home to Salt Lake City.
"That department rapidly became the world center for computer graphics," she said. "Tenured professors from many major universities came to Utah where computer graphics was being born."
One of those was 28-year-old Ivan Sutherland, who left a tenured position at Harvard University to join Evans in the new venture.
E&S was launched in 1968 but Evans stayed with the U. of U. until 1972 when he began devoting all of his considerable energy to the fledgling company.
Speakers at the dinner were to include Malcolm Low, one of the early venture capitalists who worked with Evans in the early years to fund the company. John Yeomans, who was head of Rediffusion, the company with which E&S has an exclusive partnership in producing aircraft flight simulators, was also scheduled to arrive from England for the festivities.
The list of honors Evans has received is long. Last month he was named to the Hall of Fame in the U. of U.'s David Eccles School of Business, the fifth member named. The Hall was formed to honor business leaders for contributions that set them apart from all others in their field.
Evans was honored "because of his unequaled ability to transfer technological innovation into business success."
Patience, tolerance, deep interest in human beings and high moral values, were cited last year when the MountainWest Venture Group named him Entrepreneur of the Decade.