Beta Phi Alumni Articles

Brother Ward Enters Chapter Eternal

Ward


Brother Jim Ward, Beta Phi, ‘60, a UA baseball pitcher and rancher, died Jan. 7, 2018 in Abilene, Texas. He was 78. 

Brother Ward won 30 games for the Wildcats between 1958-60, which ranks him fifth in career wins. He won 13 games in 1960 and led the Wildcats to the College World Series, where he was named to the all-tournament team. He also ranks 10th in career strikeouts with 292.

 The Wildcats’ coach, Frank Sancet, Beta Phi ’33 coached Ward and his catcher was All-American Alan Hall, Beta Phi ’60. Several other Sigs played with Ward, including Mike Longo, Linn Wallace, Charlie Shoemaker, John Colyer, Bill Barraclough, Bob Wilson and Jim Geist.

Brother Ward played pro baseball for nine seasons in the minor leagues, running up a record of 88 wins and 84 losses with an ERA of 3.57.

He was inducted into the Wildcats Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

At that time, Arizona Daily Star sports columnist Greg Hansen noted that Ward was given to finishing most conversations with the two-word declaration:  ‘Bear Down.’ ”

“Isn’t that strange for a man who graduated from college 54 years ago? Bear Down? Still?

“Ward isn’t one to be awed or cling to an old rallying cry unless it has a deep meaning. He routinely shared a dugout at Dodger Stadium with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. He struck out 16 Oklahoma State batters in the College World Series. He raised cattle. Owned a printing company. Graduated from the UA by taking 21 units his final semester.

“There isn’t much Jim Ward hasn’t seen. His baseball career was delayed while he learned to be a soldier at Fort Ord. His first wife, Nancy, died of cancer 22 years ago. He lost his first ranch, his cattle business, after four years of a Texas drought.

“Can you imagine what it would take to move a man to tears after all that?”

“It was a phone call from (UA associate athletic director) Phoebe Chalk in August,” he says. “I thought, ‘Well, they’re going to ask me for some money,’ but that wasn’t it at all. She said, ‘Congratulations, Jim, you’ve been elected to the UA Sports Hall of Fame.’ ”

Ward broke down in tears.

“I was speechless,” he told Hansen. “I started bawling. My son was in the room, and he said, ‘What’s the matter, are you OK?’ I just couldn’t express myself, but, you know, it’s the greatest thrill of my baseball life.”

“Much like predecessors Lee, Thomas and Baldwin, Ward became a Big Game pitcher.” Hansen wrote. “He went 30-7 in 39 career starts, including a breakout 13-1 season in 1960 when he was itching to pitch against defending national champion Oklahoma State in Omaha.” He struck out 16 Cowboys and beat them 2-1.

 “My years at Arizona set the foundation for my life,” Ward told Hansen. “I’ve had a lot of adventures, but as I think back, almost nothing was as satisfying as the day I got my degree. My mom and dad were in the audience. They were so proud. I was a Wildcat for life.

All Honor to His Name.

Brother John Colyer Enters Chapter Eternal

Colyer

Brother John Colyer, Beta Phi ‘59, a baseball player at the UA and a businessman, died  June 14, 2017, in Portland, Oregon, at the age of 80.

Brother Coyle was born Jan. 27, 1937, in Phoenix. After graduation from North Phoenix High School in 1955, he attended the UA where he played varsity baseball from 1956-59 under Brother and coach Frank Sancet and joined Sigma Chi, where he became Consul. He received a degree in mechanical engineering.

He served briefly in the US Air Force and then went on to a career in the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning industry until his retirement in 2006.

His wife, Virginia Kay, predeceased him in 2015.  He is survived by four children and seven grandchildren.

All Honor to His Name.

William "Bill" Earl Evans Sr. Enters Chapter Eternal

Earl Evans Sr.

Brother William "Bill" Earl Evans Sr., Beta Phi ’52, who worked in the cattle business in the Phoenix area, died June 21, 2017. He was 88.

He was born on October 15, 1928, in Mattoon, Illinois, and later moving to Tucson, where he attended Tucson High School. Brother Evans attended the University of Arizona, where he joined Sigma Chi Fraternity. Upon graduation, he was commissioned second lieutenant and served 14 months of his time in Korea as a tank commander in the 82nd and 102nd Airborne Division at Indian Patch.

Afterward, he returned to Arizona and entered the cattle business, starting as a feed representative to the numerous feed yards, eventually acquiring his own feed yard east of Scottsdale on the Pima Indian Reservation. He was active in the Arizona Cattle Feeders Association.

Brother Evans was married to Julie Catherine Perry on August 19, 1955. They had five children:

In 1973, he moved his family to Florida to become a cattle rancher. He was chairman of Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. He died in Lakeland, Florida.

All Honor to His Name.

Brother Dawson Burns Enters Chapter Eternal

D Burns

Brother Dawson Burns, a longtime Tucson dentist, entered the Chapter Eternal on Oct. 1, 2017. He was 80.

He was born in Tucson on June 23, 1937, and raised in Tucson and Grand Prairie, Texas. He graduated from Culver Military Academy in 1955 and transferred to the UA, where he became active in Beta Phi. Sigma Chi/ He graduated in 1959. He then enrolled a Loyola University of Chicago, graduating from dental school in 1963.

Brother Dawson entered private practice as a dentist in Tucson in 1964 and treated patients in Tucson and Green Valley for more than 40 years. He was well known across Tucson as a Little League dad, reluctant horse ranch owner, wine aficionado, western art collector, skilled woodworking craftsman, and humorist.

He was preceded in death by Jean, his wife of 57 years. Brother Dawson is survived by a daughter, Diane of Scottsdale and two sons, Jack of Tucson and Brad of Las Vegas. 

All Honor to His Name

Brother Jim Geist, '60, Enters Chapter Eternal

James Geist
Brother Jim Geist passed away in Denver Colorado early last week. Jim was quarterback and captain of the 1960 football team and pitcher for the UA baseball teams that went to the College World Series 3 times from 58 - 60.  He retired from the Air Force as a highly decorated Colonel having flown a record 200 missions in the Viet Nam War and was an assistant coach at the Air Force before leaving the service.

Jim is survived by wife Sandy; first wife Dee and their children Jennifer & Christopher; nieces & nephews; and many friends. Jim was a fighter to the end on the football field, in an F-4, and on the golf course. Committal Service Fri., 09/29/17, 9:15 AM, Fort Logan National Cemetery, Area C. A Celebration of his Life to be announced later. Donations suggested to the Denver Hospice, 501 S. Cherry St #700, Denver, CO 80246.

All Honor to His Name