These are the words of Les Ober in memory of Karl Evans
It was a little over 5 weeks ago that I traveled to PA on a bright sunshiny day to help with the Lake Erie Maple Expo. I remember thinking that we had finally rounded to the corner and a new normal lay ahead. A month later Ohio successfully pulled off The Ohio Maple Days on an early December cloudy and rainy day. Little did any of us realize this was a premonition of what was to come.
The following Wednesday we heard the news that the Ohio Maple Community had lost one of its own. The news left all of us speechless, asking why? Karl Evans, current President of the Ohio Maple Producers Association, passed away on December 15, 2021. Karl was only 51 years old leaving behind his wife Amber and two beautiful and amazing daughters Abigail and Anna.
I have known Karl for most of the years that I have worked for OSU Extension, and he took over one of the most historic maple syrup operations in NE Ohio when I was just getting started. The woods he owned was formerly owned by Francis Manes. Francis was a prominent distributor for the Leader Evaporator Company in NE Ohio. Karl fit right in, taking over the Leader dealership, and developing May Hill Maple Supply. Working alongside him was his longtime friend and fellow maple producer Ray Gingerich. He changed his home woods over to a vacuum tubing system and was soon working together with Ray installing tubing systems across NE Ohio and NW PA.
When the idea germinated to start the Lake Erie Maple Expo, Karl was one of the first to sign on and make it happen. At the same time, Karl became interested in working with the Ohio Maple Producers Association. After several years on the Board of Directors, he took over the position of Vice President working alongside President Dan Brown. When Dan retired as President, Karl was elected in his stead. Karl was never one to seek out recognition. He was rather shy and reserved, but over the 4 years I watched him gain confidence using his determination to build a stronger organization. He represented Ohio as a Director for the North American Maple Syrup Council. He also worked with Ohio State University lending support to develop the OSU Mansfield Maple Program. His guidance and advice will be missed.
Evans is pictured here in his perfect maple tree orchard that he planted himself over the past 20 years at his farm in Orwell, Ohio. Evans took great pride in this orchard saying he wanted to leave a legacy for his daughters. Just like the straight rows of 300 maple trees, Karl will be remembered most for the straightforward and honest advice that he gave to his fellow sugar makers.