Endowed Giving: Art and Margery Eveland

Endowed Giving: Margery and Art Eveland

Arthur and Margery Eveland lived in a succinct ranch home on a quiet curving street in a neighborhood not far from the Kansas State Fairgrounds.

Their house on Lenox reflected the efficiency of its 1960s era: every function with its room and every room with its function. The kitchen wasn’t grand. The spaces weren’t vast and open.

None of the hallmarks of modern living were apparent in their lives.

Indeed, the Evelands lived quietly, modestly, and apart from church involvement and relationships with a few close friends, kept to themselves.

After Art’s death in November 2017 at age 94 and Margery’s passing a few months later in February at age 91, the two high school sweethearts left an estate of nearly $1.4 million to Hutchinson Community Foundation and Trinity United Methodist Church.


Ask anyone in the area who is of a certain age and you’ll likely hear that Art Eveland photographed that person’s wedding or senior portrait.

Art Eveland Photography became well-known in the 1950s and beyond as the place to go for portrait, event and commercial photography.

“Every place we went to eat, or I would take them to Walmart when they were able to go, we always ran into people,” recalls longtime friend and caregiver Barbara Drake, and people would say “‘You took my picture.’”

The unassuming couple devoted themselves to their business, which no doubt contributed to their prolific body of work.

“That was their life. They’d be there all day long, they’d go home, eat a little bit and go back to that studio and stay some nights till midnight and after,” Drake, of Hutchinson, said.

The Evelands attended photography conventions and traveled. Each January, as business slowed, they closed the studio and headed to Louisiana to fish and camp.

But having no other preoccupations, their business came first.

“‘I’m no golfer, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I have no tattoos,’” Drake remembers Art once telling her.

Both originally from Nebraska, Art and Marge, as they were known, moved to Hutchinson in 1951 following Art’s service during World War II and a stop at photography school in Fort Worth, Texas, made possible through the GI Bill. He then took a job in Hays before eventually settling in Hutch.

Art didn’t just photograph the locals. His camera encountered members of the “Gunsmoke” cast – James Arness, Milburn Stone and Amanda Blake – and Carl Switzer, who played Alfalfa on “The Little Rascals.”

Another longtime friend John Summervill, of Hutchinson, described a businessman with a “meticulous,” “professional” work ethic.

“It had to be done right,” he said.

War and a love story

Art survived some of the fiercest fighting of the war to realize his dream of being a photographer.

He served as a corpsman with the 4th Marine Division in the South Pacific on the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima.

In 2012, he recounted his Iwo Jima experiences to The Hutchinson News and told of giving blood all night to a Marine whose femoral artery was damaged. With a shortage of doctors, an operation wasn’t possible. The Marine eventually died.

“‘It bothers me to this day,’” he told The News.

More than 6,000 American servicemen died fighting for Iwo Jima. Among them were several of Art’s friends, including his best friend.

After Iwo Jima, the division headed back to Hawaii to begin preparing for its next campaign.

“‘We were training to hit Kyushu,’” he told The News in 2012.

But before his division could head to another Japanese stronghold, the atomic bomb was dropped and the war ended.

As is the case with most veterans, his service made a lifelong imprint. He was a member of the American Legion Lysle Rishel Post No. 68, Combat Medical Personnel and the 4th Marine Division Association.

“He was proud of his service,” Summervill said.

After the fighting, Art returned to the mainland on another mission. He hitchhiked across the U.S. to Wayne, Nebraska, to seek the hand of his old friend Margery McCullough.

As the story goes, when he strolled into the bank where she was working, clad in his Marine uniform, all activity halted. The bank president gave Marge the rest of the day off, and Art whisked her away.

After just one date, they married Feb. 17, 1946.

Their devotion to their business was only eclipsed by their devotion to each other. They rarely shared a cross word, even in their final months when neither was feeling his or her best, according to Drake.

In those days, a fall sent Marge to the hospital and eventually a nursing home when it was clear that staying in her own home was no longer an option.

But without his companion of 71 years at his side, it was only a matter of weeks before Art’s health also propelled him to nursing care. As his condition deteriorated, it became clear to caregivers and those closest to him that he wanted to spare his sweetheart.

“He died in November and she died in February. We were at the doctor’s office when he passed away,” Drake said of her and Marge. “He wanted it to be that way. And they kept telling me – Hospice and the employees at Good Samaritan – they said, ‘He didn’t want you girls to be here.’”

Said Summervill, “I don’t know any man and wife that loved each other more than they did.”

Doing unto others …

When Drake was hospitalized with an illness, the Evelands came to see her. When her husband became ill and bedfast, they visited him regularly. And when her husband died, the Evelands checked on her every day and even invited her to stay with them and eat meals with them.

When Summervill needed a picture taken, Art, having retired in 1987 but remaining an avid photographer, offered his services at his home.

“He took me downstairs in the basement and it was a professional job of getting a picture for what I needed, and he enjoyed that kind of stuff. He just loved to do things for people like that,” Summervill said.

The needs of others were often on Art’s and Marge’s minds.

When Trinity United Methodist Church embarked on a kitchen renovation, fundraisers ensued to pay for it, yet something else happened.

“Lo and behold the word got out that somebody had decided to pay the bill for the remodeling,” Summervill, a church member, said. “And no one knew. And that secret lasted until we had an announcement at church. We had a dinner, and they were shocked. The Evelands paid for the kitchen, the remodel.”

One day, when an unexpected $100 check arrived in the mail, Art knew just how he wanted to spend it.

“‘Hey Barb, after we eat, let’s just take off and cash this check and we’re going to Aldi’s,’” Drake recalled him saying to her.

They purchased $100 worth of canned goods that day and took them to the food bank.

“We were always talking about that – people in Hutchinson not having enough food,” she said.

And sometimes, some of Art’s shirts found their way to the backs of Hutchinson High School students in need of clothing.

Wise investments allowed the quiet couple who lived humbly to continue the legacy of giving they began while they were alive. The Arthur R. and Margery A. Eveland Fund will perpetually support The Salvation Army of Hutchinson, the Reno County Food Bank, the Christian Soup Ministry and Hospice & HomeCare of Reno County.

“They were just kind people,” Summervill said.