Charles Evans Endowment
The Charles Evans Foundation donated $100,000 to establish The Charles Evans Foundation Endowment at the Athens Area Homeless Shelter. This endowment will fund the future efforts and expansion of the Athens Area Homeless Shelter as it seeks to help the homeless in Athens transition out of homelessness toward self-sufficiency. In keeping with his practice of turning personal tragedy into action, interest from The Charles Evans Endowment Fund will aid families and individuals in the Athens community seeking shelter and financial independence.
Charles Evans was born and educated in New York. After serving in the United States Army, he went to work as a salesman in the fashion business.
He had the idea of giving women’s skirts a “menswear look” and designed a variation on a simple skirt with a fly front that he thought would find a market among fashion-conscious women. In need of a sample that he could take around to stores to sell, he approached his father’s tailor, Joseph Picone, who was working out of a storefront on Fifth Avenue near 46th street.
The two agreed to a partnership. While incorporating, “Evans-Picone” morphed into the easier to pronounce Evan-Picone. Their company was an early pioneer of assembly-line garment manufacturing, assigning one worker to sew hems, another to add buttons, and another to sew pocket darks (a company innovation that kept pocket seams from tearing). The Evan-Picone label was a success and soon dominated the women’s sportswear business. In 1962, Mr. Evans sold the company to Revlon.
For his next challenge, Mr. Evans went into the commercial real estate business, forming, with his brother-in-law, architect Michael Shure, The Evans Partnership. Within a short period of time, the company became one of the major developers of office buildings in the Northeast. Many of the office buildings were designed in collaboration with renowned modernist architect, Charles Gwathmey.
In 1975, tragedy struck. An apartment fire took the lives of his two daughters and former wife, sparing their only son, Charles Evans, Jr. As as result, Mr. Evans started the Crusade For Fire Detection, Ltd., which addressed the need for smoke detectors in the home. He went public with the story of his loss, send out 4,000 smoke detectors as gifts and launched a massive chain letter which prompted the legislation that made smoke detectors mandatory in most homes throughout the United States today.
In 1981, Mr. Evans ventured into the movie business. He developed a screenplay about an actor who succeeds when dressed as a woman, and produced the film TOOTSIE. Its success spurred him on to produce addition films.
Mr. Evans once again turned personal sadness into philanthropy after losing his father, Dr. Archie Shapera, to Alzheimer’s disease. As national Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, he was honored for his support and fundraising efforts to find a cure for this devastating disease.
Mr. Evans died on June 2, 2007 in New York City, at the age of 81.
Prior to his death, Mr. Evans chose six trustees to distribute the residual assets of his estate to charities of their choice. Thus far, the Trustees have distributed Mr. Evans’ endowment to hundreds of charities.