An accomplished journalist, author and educator, the late M. Stanton Evans was a trailblazer and influential leader in the conservative movement. VIPs of the conservative movement gathered at the Heritage Foundation last week to pay tribute to Evans’ work.
“His whole life was dedicated to freedom and speaking truth in its defense,” said Ralph Kinney Bennett, former Washington editor of The Reader’s Digest, in his eulogy of Evans at Heritage. “He understood perfectly how daunting it is to have God’s gift of freedom -- to be placed at risk in the universe, subject to its laws, physical and moral, and to the consequences of contravention or obedience.”
At the age of 26, Evans wrote the Sharon Statement: a statement of purpose adopted by the Young Americans for Freedom organization at William F. Buckley’s estate in 1960. The document united conservatives and libertarians in the cause of liberty by outlining the central tenets of conservatism: freedom of the individual, limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense.
Most in the crowded auditorium were Evans’ old friends, colleagues and family. But even for those who had never met him, tributes offered painted a warm picture of “Stan the man.”
“He doted on the Atlanta elixir, the dark ambrosia, Coca-Cola,” Bennett said. “He would often come to breakfast meetings or conferences, sit down amid all the eggs and bacon and coffee and Danishes, and place a pack of cigarettes and a can of Coke on the table in front of him. ‘My mother always told me,’” he would announce, “‘that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.’”
“Life in D.C. was a source of recurring heartburn for Stan,” Bennett continued. “Car impoundments, parking tickets, futile arguments with sundry bureaucrats and stolid code-enforcement officers, all prompted Stan to regard the District of Columbia as ‘The Soviet Union, but without the amenities.’”
Evans served as chairman of the American Conservative Union, and founded the ACU Education and Research Institute. He was a nationally syndicated columnist, a commentator on National Public Radio, Voice of America and Radio America, and authored ten books. He founded the National Journalism Center to train young journalists in methods of accurate, balanced, factual reporting.
He passed away on March 3 in Leesburg, Virginia.