Hugh Williams Evans

Hugh Williams Evans, long-time ski trooper, career miner and friend of the Leadville community passed away at Frasier Meadows Assisted Living in Boulder on Nov. 28 at the age of 97. He was born March 21, 1924 in San Francisco, California to Audrey W. and Evan Cyfeiliog Evans Jr. of French and Welsh pioneering heritage.

Evans’ early years in San Rafael were followed by attending high school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, from which he graduated in 1943. After high school, Evans was inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces and assigned to the Mountain Training Center at Camp Hale.

Camp Hale was Evans’ introduction to Leadville, although the military police kept the young soldiers out of town because of shenanigans with locals and the still resident “ladies of the night.” Evans used to vividly describe the rigorous six weeks of D-series exercises in extreme cold and blizzards, often camping without fires where the men would awaken buried in snow.

In January 1945, the soldiers boarded the USS West Point to Northern Italy where they served 114 days of front line combat. Evans was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service.

After the war, Evans enrolled at the Colorado School of Mines where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Engineer of Mines in 1949 — a “miner 49er.” There he met his wife, Ann Gullberg, a student at the University of Colorado from Moline, Illinois. They married on Sept. 2, 1950, launching a dynamic marriage of 70 wonderful years. After recall to active duty during the Korean War at the Monterrey Army Language School, Evans’ career in the mining industry took them all over the world.

After a dead end job at a California gold mine, Evans headed to Leadville knowing there was work at Climax. However, in a twist of fate, a stopover in Salt Lake City led to a job at Bingham Canyon. His early jobs included mucking, drilling, blasting and tunneling, then exploration in gold, copper, uranium and iron ore. These jobs led to a career in coal mining, management, marketing and building towns while developing coal mines, which took the family from Utah to the Philippines, New Mexico, California and Australia. The couple later lived in Illinois and Ohio, making a full-circle return to Colorado in the 1990s.

Evans was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in 2020. “Retirement” meant consulting work in Hungary, Jamaica and Russia and involvement with the 10th Mountain Division Association. Participation with the association included veteran reunions, trips to Italy, participation in the International Federation of Mountain Soldiers, co-publishing a C-company history titled “Good Times, Bad Times” and helping found the Denver Public Library 10th Mountain Resource Center. Since 1978, the 10th Moutain ski-ins, many of which were organized by Evans, brought Evans and other veterans together for a week of skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone and Ski Cooper.

A staunch supporter of the system of 10th Mountain Division huts, Evans skied into all 19 huts, including the 10th Mountain Hut for his 90th birthday. He continued skiing at Ski Cooper at age 93. After Tennessee Pass Monument ceremonies and a song or two, as a staunch member of the aprês group, he’d catch a ride to the Silver Dollar.

Among Evans’ favorite times in Leadville were days with the SOS Outreach and elementary school children, skiing with local kids and visiting their classrooms. He also enjoyed the annual Lake County Intermediate School program at which students presented research papers on the division.

“Hugh will be keenly missed by friends near and far,” his daughter Deborah Clem said. “Here in Leadville he and his 10th buddies will forever be with us in spirit at Tennessee Pass and whenever we trek the timberline trails or head down a snow-packed slope singing, ‘Two boards upon cold powdered snow, yo ho!’

Evans was preceded in death by his beloved wife Ann who passed away in Frasier on Jan. 26.

The couple is survived by their four children Michael (Judy Liimatainen) Evans, Deborah (Steven) Clem, Susannah (Peter) LeVon and Kathleen (Kelly) Hurley and their 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren from Colorado, California, Ohio, Idaho, New York and Texas. Sempre Avanti.