LaRue Evans hits another milestone
By Amber Revels-Stocks
Sunday, May 26, 2019
WINTERVILLE — LaRue Mooring Evans began her career as a professional educator in a most unusual way.
It was in 1940 after graduating from East Carolina Teaching College, now East Carolina University, with degrees in English, French and history.
“When I graduated from college, I went to see D.H. Conley, who was superintendent of Pitt County Schools,” Evans said. “I told him I was looking for a teaching job. At that time, Grimesland had a high school. He said that Grimesland needed a history teacher and for me to contact John Elks, the chairman of the Grimesland school board.
“I found Mr. Elks at his farm riding his tractor. I told him I was there to apply for the job of history teacher. He asked, ‘Do you smoke?’ I didn’t. He asked ‘Do you drink?’ I didn’t. He said, ‘Well then, I guess we can use you.’ And I had my first job.”
It was an early milestone in a life full of accomplishments. Another milestone came on Tuesday when Evans turned 100 years old.
Evans was born in Stokes May 21, 1919, to Jim and Lelia Mooring. Her father farmed, and her mother was a teacher. Evans began teaching as a child when she would line up her dolls and play school.
She worked at Grimesland High School from 1940-42, at Winterville High School from 1942-46 and at Ayden School from 1948-60. She spent the rest of her career at Washington High School in Beaufort County from 1960-81.
“Teaching my students to think for themselves instead of memorizing for feedback (was one of my great accomplishments),” Evans said. “It was a pleasure teaching at all of (the schools), so I had no favorite. I had wonderful students — many of whom continue to be special friends today.”
She earned her master’s degree from East Carolina College in 1960. She also attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1966, where she did postgraduate study. In 1965 she received a John Hay Fellowship, which allowed her to study at the University of California in Berkeley.
“That was right after the protests (in 1964-65),” Evans said. “Berkeley was completely different from North Carolina. … It’s very conservative here. It was much more liberal in Berkeley.”
Her experiences prompted a book titled, “Berkeley Through Bifocals,” which Evans wrote during her retirement.
While she was teaching, Evans organized the first annual statewide social studies conference and served as the N.C. Council for Social Studies’ first president. She also directed a three-year project to improve the teaching of social studies through the inquiry method and served as an evaluator for the Southern Association of High Schools and Colleges.
Evans married James Alex Evans Jr. of Winterville in 1943. She has lived in the same home since 1947 when her son, DeLyle, was born.
“During that year, my husband, Alex, and I got a new home, a new car and a new baby,” Evans said. “(DeLyle) has lived with me for the past two years as a result of my old age and the loss of most of my eyesight due to macular degeneration. If it were not for him, I would be living in an assisted living facility.”
Evans was also instrumental in promoting the growth and improvement of the town of Winterville. She was an active proponent in getting the streets paved.
After her retirement in 1981, Evans continued to be involved in history throughout the state.
“They were going to turn the A.W. Ange House, which is now the museum, into a clinic. It was the only home in Winterville that was old enough to be placed on the National Historic Register, so I fought for them to leave it alone. I didn’t want to see the doorways widened because it would affect the historical value of the home,” Evans said. “We need to protect our history. As a former history teacher, I know how important it is to know where we came from.”
Evans established an endowment fund for the maintenance of the Winterville Museum, which is located in the Ange House, but that was the only home she saved.
“The Robert Lee Humber House in Greenville was going to be remodeled,” Evans remembers. “I spoke to somebody from every one of the counties in the (eastern) region (of the N.C. Historical Society) about the importance of that house. … Now it serves as the eastern office.”
In honor of her efforts, the Eastern Office of Archives and History established the LaRue Mooring Evans award in recognition of meritorious volunteerism in historic preservation. She was the first-ever recipient.
In 2007, East Carolina University named Evans as one of its 100 Incredible ECU Women to be honored as part of university’s centennial celebration. These women were chosen by their peers as outstanding leaders who brought honor to the university, as well as to themselves.
“Being one of the 100 Incredible Women is one of the greatest achievements of my life,” Evans said.
It would be impossible to list everything Evans has done in her 100 years in Pitt County. She has been a teacher, a historian, a leader and a writer, both of books and for The Daily Reflector. She has been honored as 2011 Winterville Citizen of the Year, had an award named after her and received several fellowships.
Above all, she is humble. She requested no balloons, no cake and no singing at her 100th birthday party Sunday at the Winterville Depot.
“I understand that out of every 1,000 people, 14 will make it to 100,” Evans said. “I believe I made it as a result of not eating meat and sugar.”
The Times-Leader serves southern Pitt County including the the towns of Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.