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Genealogy: Family Histories

Roy A. Evert

Last Revised 05/03/2009

 Retrospect: Roy A. Evert was a community leader

By Fred Keller, Sussex Village Historian

Posted: July 2, 2008, Sussex Sun


Born in 1906 and raised in Pewaukee, Roy A. Evert moved to Sussex in the early 1940s and died here at age 75 in early 1982.

In his time, he worked as a mechanic and businessman; served the village as a trustee, fire chief and Wastewater Treatment Plant operator; and was acclaimed as a local sportsman and promoter.

Roy moved to the Hext place in Lisbon (where H&H Auto Parts on Highway 74 is today, just north of the northern rim of the Halquist quarry) around the beginning of World War II.

Soon afterward, he and his wife, Dorothy, and their growing family acquired the large home and office of Dr. C.D. Greulich in downtown Sussex immediately east of today’s Sussex Classic Hair Salon at Orchard and Main. Roy and Dorothy raised three boys and three girls there: Roy C., Bill, Ron, Marjorie, Jeanne and Doretta.

On coming to Lisbon-Sussex, Evert became part of the Sussex Athletic Club and organized and managed many of its teams. All three sons would become prominent members of Sussex’s Rivers and Lakes basketball and baseball teams. Their father became, in 1977, the very first Sussex man elected to the Land O’Lakes Baseball Hall of Fame. Since then, six more have earned the honor, and the majority of them played for Evert.

Evert worked for his brother, Rueben, at the Nettesheim and Otto Elevator and farm machinery store. Sometime during World War II, the Reinders brothers of Elm Grove bought the elevator and renamed it Sussex Mills.

Meanwhile, Evert bought out the farm machinery part of the business, which sat in the middle of what is now the Sussex Mills Apartments parking lot, and ran it until his retirement in the late 1970s, when he sold the by-then-defunct business to Sussex Mills’ Gordon Pfeil.

Evert also owned two farm machinery franchises, Minneapolis-Moline and New Holland, and serviced wells. After the farms started disappearing in 1960, that became his principal business, which he continued into his retirement working out of his home

He served 22 years in the Sussex Fire Department, 1944-1966, and was elected fire chief in 1952. One of his contributions to the department was the purchase of a cheap water tanker truck from federal government surplus.

His biggest contribution, however, was to start its first-aid and rescue services. Before then, rescue had been handled by Dr. Ervin Van Valin, a quasi-honorary member of the department. Its first rescue vehicle was a reconditioned bread truck.

Just before he became chief, while he was still serving as Chief Roy Stier’s assistant, the Hardiman Oil Co. multiple-oil-tank facility on Maple Avenue next to the North Western Railroad tracks caught fire July 24, 1951, the biggest fire of Evert’s career with the Fire Department.

His eight years as fire chief, from 1952 to 1960, saw a couple of school fires and a number of barn fires, but the biggest conflagrations were the massive grass fires in spring and late fall. The department then covered 36 square miles – both Sussex and Lisbon.

Evert served on the Sussex Village Board and was a key member of the Finance Committee. After that stint in elected office, he became the first person to run the new Sussex Wastewater Treatment Plant.

His boys have all remained in Sussex-Lisbon. Roy C., his wife, Kathy, and their children were outstanding early volunteers at the Sussex Library, and Kathy eventually joined its hired staff as it evolved into Pauline Haass Public Library.

Bill played on the 1973 grand championship Sussex Land O’Lakes Baseball Club and is still a member of the team, serving as its director after his playing days ended. He has since joined his father in the Sussex Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ron has had a checkered career since he took over his father’s well-pump repair business. In the 1990s he took on the role of Lisbon political gadfly, and eventually won a seat on the Town Board.

In a scandal of sorts, he accepted an offer of immunity during a district attorney’s investigation of an incident involving the Lisbon Police Department and resigned suddenly from the Lisbon Town Board. He picked up some more notoriety with his attempt to sue the Town of Lisbon for his legal fees.

He tried a political comeback soon afterward in last year’s Lisbon primary for town chairman. He came in a distant second in a five-candidate primary, and lost to current Chairman Mike Reed in the general election.

Roy A. Evert died Jan. 5, 1982, at age 75 of a heart attack. The Sussex Fire Department rescue squad that he had helped create when he was chief was dispatched to his home, but he died before they arrived. He is buried in Lisbon Central Cemetery.

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