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Mark D. Evans – In Memoriam (1952-2021)

The Buffalo Presidential Center is deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague Mark D. Evans. His vast knowledge and contributions to exhibits and programs will be greatly missed.

Mark, who was one of the five founding trustees of the Association for a Buffalo Presidential Center, died suddenly on October 21st at his home in Avon, New York. Always imaginative, Mark found a way to marry his fascination for history and politics with his love of collecting, dedication to service, and a whimsical flare for promotion to help create the Buffalo Presidential Center.

Born in Buffalo in 1952, Mark graduated from P.S. 68, the honors program at Kensington High School, and SUNY Buffalo State College with a degree in history. While at college, Mark was elected president of the United Student Government and in 1972 headed Students for McGovern.

After teaching history for a year, Mark returned to college, earning an MLS from SUNY Geneseo. He served as director of public libraries in Perry and Attica and as director of the Livingston & Wyoming County Library System. Mark somehow even managed to lure First Lady Barbara Bush to an event in Wyoming County to promote family literacy.

Mark gave up the bright lights of library system administration to turn his passion into a business. Mark had begun collecting political buttons in 1960. In 1962, his Halloween costume was a facemask fashioned from a Nelson Rockefeller campaign poster (with the eyes cut out, of course!) and a “Win with Rocky” shopping bag. By the time he entered high school he discovered there were thousands of others who shared his mania. Accordingly, he joined the American Political Items Collectors as member #995. He took great pride in his long association with the APIC, serving on its board of directors, as advertising manager of its magazine, and as member services director. With Bren Price, Mark even brought the APIC’s national convention to Buffalo in 2010, which he termed “one of my most important and rewarding accomplishments.”

While assembling impressive collections of political items focusing on figures associated with Buffalo, especially Jack Kemp and First Lady Francis Folsom Cleveland, Mark became a major dealer in political items ranging from buttons, to posters, matchbook covers, and even emery boards. When his inventory outgrew the home he shared with his wife, Pat, he leased the basement of a former industrial building in Avon, which he called his “underground lair.” From there he conducted a successful business serving collectors across the United States and abroad.

Mark’s love of Buffalo and political history led him to Maryann Saccomando Freedman and Joan Bozer, who had first discussed the idea of a Buffalo Presidential Center. The charter from the NYS Board of Regents establishing the organization names Mark as one of its founding trustees. He has been a leader of the organization and unifying presence from the beginning. Outside of “the hobby” (as it is called), his business, and important work with the Buffalo Presidential Center, Mark was a past president and 28-year member of the Avon Rotary Club.

Mark Evans was a man with great passion for history: an innovative promoter, a visionary leader, and a dedicated collector focused on telling Buffalo’s story. We are richer for our opportunity to work with him and will never forget his contributions and passion.

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