Recreation centers keep legacy of Evans, Miller, Hall alive

Published 12:10 am Sunday, February 23, 2020

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — Before Lincoln Pool was created, Fred M. Evans went to a “creek” across the street where Walmart now is.

When the pool was being built in 1966, Evans was certified to become the first lifeguard at the pool. And after he died in 2015 at the age of 74, the pool was renamed as the Fred M. Evans Pool the next year. Raemi Evans, his wife, is still learning the impact her husband had on swimmers.

“A lot people come by here and say ‘he did this for me,’” Raemi Evans said. “He didn’t tell me. So many of them remember things he’s done that he didn’t find it necessary to brag about.”

Some of the stories include him letting swimmers into the pool for free if they didn’t have money for admission. Swimmers could also clean the pool before the season to get free admission for the summer.

Raemi Evans recalled her granddaughter struggling with the swimming test she needed to pass for the military. Fred was then in his early 70s.

He got down on the floor in their living room and showed her how to swim. Her granddaughter not only passed her exam but was able to train others, Raemi Evans said.

“He’s probably taught over 200 people how to swim around here, because that was the only pool for a long time,” Evans said.

But like other city parks facilities named for black Salsburians who made the city a better place to live, repairs are needed. Parks and Recreation Director Nick Aceves said the pool needs to be replastered. The bathroom and lifeguard building need to be updated. He would also like to see the pool be more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, since there is currently only a chair lift at the pool.

In the current fiscal year budget, the parks department requested and did not receive $65,000 in funding for plastering the pool.

Raemi Evans said she would like to see the pool expanded to be Olympic size.

The Evans family continues to keep Fred Evans’ legacy alive. Every year they raise money to provide free admissions to the pool, Aceves said. The department has also received donations to pay for youth swim lessons, towels and goggles. There is also a small free library at the pool.

From early June to mid-August, kids can get into the pool for $1 and adults for $2. In 2019, 1,647 adults and 3,400 kids visited the pool.

“The pool serves as an inexpensive respite from the summer heat for our residents,” Aceves said.

Fred Evans also has a sign up with his name at Dixonville Cemetery, which was dedicated in January 2016.

“We’re totally grateful and appreciative, and we’re proud of the fact that citizens realize his interest in the community and recognize it,” Raemi Evans said.

She said her husband would be proud of the recognition.

Along with his involvement with the pool, he was the first African-American assistant principal at the formerly all-white Boyden High School during integration. Boyden High School later became Salisbury High School in 1969. Before integration, he was a social studies teacher and assistant principal at Price High School. He was also a head basketball coach and a football coach.

Later in his life, Evans served as the director of transportation and student activities for Salisbury City Schools. Evans was involved in numerous community organizations, including the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, the Housing Authority, YMCA and the United Way.

“He worked out of the kindness of his heart and not for publicity,” Raemi Evans said.

Miller Teen Recreation Center, at 1402 W. Bank St., was named in honor of Issac H. Miller, a businessman and long-time professor at Livingstone College. The facility was updated in the past two years with new paint, artwork, furniture and games. But it will soon need a kitchen update, and the Parks and Recreation Department is looking to add new games and recreational activities, Aceves said.

Miller was the head of the Livingstone College Department of Education from 1929-1957. He was also the founder and first president of the Negro Civic League, co-founder and secretary-treasurer of Rowan County Teachers Credit Union and former member of the City of Salisbury recreation board.

The facility was the first recreational center for African-Americans in Salisbury.

According to a 1957 Salisbury Post story, “Professor Miller was instrumental in getting $5,000 which was donated by the Civic League for the construction of the center.”

The center was named after Miller on Feb. 10, 1957. He died in 1972 at the age of 89.

Last month, Miller Recreation Teen Center had 558 visits.

Next door to the Miller Recreation Center is Hall Gym, named after L.H. Hall, the first principal at Price High School. Major improvement needs include a new gym floor and roof replacement. The walls will also need to be repainted.

The capital improvement plan for parks and recreation department includes $100,000 for the Hall Gym floor upgrade. It was not funded. With a cost of $144,100, a roof replacement for Hall Gym was funded.

On Feb. 20, 1957, the new gym and shop building was dedicated and named for Hall, who passed away in 1964.

Hall Gym had an average of 1,722 visits a month since June 2019.