Jane Evers, former First Lady of Bradenton, passes at 72 on New Years Eve.

vmannix@bradenton.comJanuary 1, 2014 

Evers

BRADENTON -- The snapshot was one her husband carried in his wallet for 50 years and now it was on the kitchen table, the one she jokingly called her corporate headquarters.

The picture was of Jane Evers, a vivacious brunette in a bouffant hairdo like Jackie Kennedy.

"She was my rock," said Bill Evers, Bradenton's former mayor. "She's the one who kept me going."

His First Lady and the city's for 20 years was gone.

After a long courageous fight with cancer, Jane Lee Evers passed away at home early New Year's Eve.

She was 72.

"We were sad, but we're happy she isn't living with this anymore, because it was hard to see her helpless," daughter Cindy Evers said.

"She was never like that. Mom never slowed down, she just kept going and going and going. She was unstoppable."

"A fighter to the end," said Dick Moore, a longtime family friend and volunteer coordinator with Feeding Empty Little Tummies, a mom-and-pop nonprofit the Evers started and ran from their home to feed homeless Manatee County school children. "Even in her state, first and foremost on her mind were those children and making

sure FELT continued. That's her legacy."

Amen to that, said Pat Roberts, a FELT volunteer and another longtime Evers friend.

"Jane was one of a kind, a force to be reckoned with," she said. "She saw a need and she was going to meet it. She rallied the troops and away we went. She would not rest until she met that need. Jane was the mayor's wife but she was her own person."

Indeed, she has a resume to prove it.

Among her accomplishments:

• She was an award-winning journalist, including with the Bradenton Herald, back in the 1960s.

• She helped save the historic Methodist Church sanctuary, raising $25,000 to have it moved to the Manatee Historical Village and did the same with the original Manatee County Courthouse.

• She co-created and chaired numerous community events such as Snooty's Party in the Park, raised funds from merchants for lights and ornaments that decorate Barcarotta Boulevard over the holidays, and organized a welcome home parade for Desert Storm veterans.

• She retired after 25 years as a hotel sales executive with the Holiday Inn Riverfront, now the Courtyard by Marriott.

Evers' dedication to the community mirrored her devotion to her husband, especially during his 26 years at city hall, 20 of them as mayor.

"She enjoyed being First Lady, but it was a lot of work," Bill Evers said. "She'd go everywhere with me and everybody wanted to shake her hand. She had a personality that'd light up a room.

"She knew politics better than me, too. I was fiery, but she'd write my speeches and tone them down and they sounded really intelligent after I gave them."

Her devotion remained to the very end.

"She had a giving heart and tried to do right by her children, took care of Dad and he did the same for her," Cindy Evers said. "She demanded we take care of Dad."

Her father gazed at the snapshot on the kitchen table.

"She was more worried about me in this big house," Bill Evers said. "I told her we'd go on and do the best we can. It's a big void."

Visitation is 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Friday at Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory, 604 43rd St. W., Bradenton.

Services are 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Manatee Historical Village Church, 1404 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Feeding Empty Little Tummies, 211 25th St. W., Bradenton. Or use PAYPAL.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.

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