by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Over the course of two or three years I have written several articles about streets and roads in and around Grain Valley and how they got their names. Early streets and roads were usually named for the families that lived along them. Some were named for geographical locations while others were named for their location, like Front Street which ran in front of the railroad station.
In more recent years, I wonder? I do know that in the newer subdivisions, the names are chosen by the developer. Such is the case with the names in Greystone, north of town off Buckner Tarsney Road. The Greystone subdivision was developed by Roger Bennett and his sons. Roger married Margarette Elizabeth “Beth” Evans.
Beth was the youngest daughter of William D. “Bill” and Jean Evans, and the God daughter of my parents, Charlie and Mildred Napier. As I drive through the subdivision, the names become obvious to me. They are the four nieces of Roger and Beth. Stephanie’s daughters, Mary Court and Erin Court and Tom’s daughters, Amanda Jean Way and Jaclyn Drive. Hannah Way, Kim Court and Katie Court are named for great-grandchildren.
When the Evans Family came to Grain Valley in 1949 there were only three members. Stephanie Sue, the new baby born on July 5, 1949; Jean, the new mother; and Bill, the father.
They added son, Thomas Bowers Evans in 1952 and Beth in 1954.
Bill was a recent graduate of Missouri Valley College, which he attended after time out as a U. S. Marine during World War II. He came to Grain Valley to teach history and coach football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, and boys’ and girls’ track. That’s right, he was the coach, the one and only coach at Grain Valley High School.
Today, those same 5 sports have 5 head coaches and 21 assistants! And I should mention that he drove the school bus on the morning route and to most of the athletic events held out of town.
The Evans family became part of the Grain Valley community for many years. Over the next fifteen years they lived in four different homes. They rented an apartment from Wayne and Orvella Minter, who owned one of the grocery stores in town.
Next they moved to a home owned, at the time, by Keith and Elouise Shrout on the corner of R. D. Mize and Tyre Roads. In 1956 they moved into town and lived on Smith Street in the old Perkins house. Finally, they bought a home from F. L. and Grace Stillions at the corner of Yennie and Thieme streets.
Before leaving Grain Valley in 1964, they left their mark. They were active in the Methodist Church and Bill often filled the pulpit when the minister was absent. Jean was active in WSCS (Women’s Society of Christian Service) and the PTA. Bill was a founding member of the Methodist Men and the Grain Valley Lion’s Club.
Mr. Evans eventually became the high school principal and remained with the school until 1957. He moved on to become a guidance counselor, and later principal at Westport, Southwest, and Van Horn in the Kansas City School District. He retired in the early 1990s as assistant director of the Missouri State High School Activities Association in Columbia, MO.
His granddaughter and great-grandchildren will forever live on in the streets of Grain Valley!
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