Those who remember Donald M. “Donnie” Evans would agree he was a true pioneer not only with Carlisle Fire Company but the Delaware Fire Service. Born and raised in Milford, Donnie’s family was a firefighter’s family with his father Ed who was an active member of Carlisle for many years. Donnie graduated from Milford High School in 1955 and joined the United States Navy, where he served six years on two different Destroyers, the USS “Power” as well as the USS “Hugh Purvis” while stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Following his military obligations Donnie returned home and in February 1962 joined the Memorial Fire Company of Slaughter Beach. During his short tenure, Donnie held the office of Secretary and served on the committee with the Sussex County Fireman’s Association. In May of 1964, Donnie became a member of the Carlisle Fire Company.
Throughout his career, Donnie pioneered many aspects that are in part or in whole of the Carlisle Fire Company as well as the Delaware Fire Service extending as far north as Claymont to as far south as Selbyville. For many years Donnie Evans was a firehouse name to many firefighters beginning their careers in Delaware. In the 1989 fall edition of a former Firefighter Magazine entitled “The Battalion Chief”, the late editor and chief of the magazine Past Chief Harold “Tom” Aptt (Kent County Station, 52) wrote, “after becoming a member of the Fire Department, Evans took advantage of all training available at the Delaware State Fire School and the Delmarva Fire School which was conducted by the “University of Maryland”. The article goes on to say, that Evans recalls two instructors as being outstanding; John Hogland (Former Director of MFRI, College Park, MD) and Richard Batchelor. The impact these two men had on Donnie resulted in him becoming an instructor for the Delaware State Fire School in the spring of 1968.
Evans was a devoted firefighter for over forty-one years. Throughout his career he held many positions in Carlisle both administratively as well as operationally to include, President and a long-time member of the Board of Directors. Donnie held the positions of Assistant Engineer, Fire Captain, and Assistant Fire Chief. In 1976, Donnie was appointed Deputy Chief of Carlisle under Chief Marvin Hitch, a position he held for twelve years. He served on numerous committees within Carlisle that remain in existence today. including, Radio, New Truck, Archives, By Laws, New Building and the Fire Company’s Budget Program.
In 1981, Donnie was recognized by the community as the Elks Club “Fireman of the Year”. In 1984, he fulfilled all company requirements and was recognized as a Life Member and in 1996, was Carlisle’s Heroic Fireman of the Year. Even though Donnie never served in the position of Fire Chief in Carlisle, he was always thought of as a chief and was recognized in January of 2003 as the first Chief Emeritus in the 201 years of the Fire Company’s existence.
Donnie was a true Milfordian. Besides his six years away in the Navy he became a family man as well as a business man in town. Donnie and his wife of 41 years Edna (Newhouse) Evans had two children Donna and Edward as well as four grandchildren. Donnie was the adopted son to many families throughout Milford as their insurance man. Evans Insurance, where he assisted families with a variety of policy coverages, was located on Church Street, about a block and a half south of the firehouse. Many times when the whistle would blow, Donnie would hang a sign on his office door that read “Gone to Fire be back soon”.
A Navy veteran, family man, business man, life-time instructor, Past President, President Emeritus, Deputy Chief, Chief Emeritus, husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle and life member. Donnie unfortunately answered his final alarm on a February 11, 2003. A Chief’s chief, a firefighter’s firefighter, a friend to all and a stranger to none. Ten years later, you still hear the name of Donnie Evans mentioned whether at Carlisle, the Fire School or any Fire Station in Delaware. Chief Emeritus, Donald M. “ Donnie” Evans is truly one of Carlisle’s true Pioneers.