Jim and Nedra Evenson are leaving their homestead in Nikiski where they have resided since the late 50’s and returning to Anchorage. “We came up for a summer vacation from Iowa in 1955 and camped in a gear shed on the flats and were so intrigued with the boats of the commercial fishing fleet coming and going that at the end of the summer we bought a boat from Seldovia Bay Packing Co. with the idea that we would fish summers then go back outside to teach in the winter. Well, that only lasted one year and then we decided to move to Anchorage where Jim taught at what is now West High and I worked for the Department of Health for two years before we came back to Kenai to homestead out North,” Nedra told the Dispatch in an interview at her farewell party put on by the Friends of the Kenai Community Library. She became a volunteer for the library in 1965 and a continuous Board of Directors member since 1967, “I first visited the library in 1955 and they had bookshelves full of used books that had been donated and it was a nice little place in the civic center that was shared with a church, court system, city council and any civic or town-hall or community business meetings, it was wonderful,” she said.
While Jim became well known for his passion for art, Nedra’s passion was for the library, “I always loved thumbing through books and reading. The library was such a concentrated effort by the citizens of Kenai for everything that you just couldn’t help but love what it was. Then after we homesteaded the board asked me to be a volunteer and I was flattered. They were only open on Thursday’s and for the next 50 years I spent Thursday’s reading to kids. I figure I had three generations of preschoolers because I became known as their Cookie Lady,” she laughed, “It was fun watching these children grow and learn and become good healthy adults.” Jim was a little late to the party as his plans were interrupted by an ambulance ride to the emergency room, “He told the ER doctors that they had to fix him fast because he had to be at the party. They did and he came in about 5:45 looking pretty pale but his color came back from all the love that was here,” said Nedra.
The party was organized by Dee Cassel, president of the Friends of the Library whose volunteers put together a beautiful buffet. As the Evenson’s longtime friends turned out to say farewell they were encouraged to write messages for Jim and Nedra like in a high school year book. Kenai Mayor Pat Porter presented Nedra with flowers for the occasion, “I suppose roses would have spoken to our love for you,” said the Mayor, “But when I saw this bright spring bouquet it made me think of all the brightness and light you have brought to this community and I couldn’t resist,” she said. Then in her official capacity Mayor Porter read a proclamation officially making April 26th, 2016 Nedra Evenson Day which read in part, “Whereas the City of Kenai recognizes Nedra Evenson for her devotion to the Kenai Community Library and as a pillar of our community. Now, Therefore, I Mayor Pat Porter do hereby recognize April 26, 2016 as Nedra Evenson Day in the City of Kenai and I call this observance to the attention of our citizens.” Jim and Nedra will be living at the Horizon House in Anchorage, “It’s easy to find and we invite anyone to stop by and visit the Cookie Lady when they are in town,” said Nedra. From her pastor Janice Carlton, Nedra received a framed copy of their closing hymn “Go Ye Now in Peace.”