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Obituary: Randall M. “Ranny” Evanson

June 26, 1933 – Dec. 13,  2022

Randall M. Evanson – “Ranny” – passed away on Dec. 13,  2022, at a hospital in DeLand, Florida, where he and his wife Christiane – “Christy” – had lived since 1980. He was 89 years old. He is survived by Christy; brothers, Lee Evanson (Sue) and Bob Evanson (Nan); and eight nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Mary Farrar-Baynes Evanson; and his parents, Milton and Marie Evanson.

Ranny was born in Marshfield, WI on June 26, 1933 but moved to Independence, Iowa when his father purchased a business there in 1938. He attended Campion Jesuit High School, a college preparatory school, in Prairie du Chien, WI, where he was the class salutatorian. He then studied in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where he indulged his love of learning foreign languages. 

Following his college graduation in 1955, he married his first wife, Mary, an Englishwoman whom he met at a social gathering in Washington, DC. They were married for twenty years until her death in 1975. 

Ranny served in the US Navy for two years, after which he taught at a high school in Fairfax, Virginia while earning a doctoral degree in Business Administration at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He and Mary then moved to Miami, Florida, where he spent a number of years in the employment of Braniff Airlines. He used his fluency in Portuguese and Spanish when he greeted selected passengers arriving in Miami from South America. Longing to return to Wisconsin, where he spent his youthful summers in Ephraim, in 1966 he joined the faculty of Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, where he taught for fourteen years. It was during that time that he took a year’s leave of absence in the wake of Mary’s passing. He spent part of that leave in Africa, where he met his second wife, Christy, in Capetown, South Africa. (Christy was born in Belgium but grew up in Africa). On their second encounter, he proposed to her and she accepted. With his new wife, Ranny returned to Oshkosh, but in 1980 he accepted a teaching position at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, where he taught for six years before retiring.

Ranny was best known for his high intelligence, love of nature, and passion for birdwatching. He traveled the world to see new birds — northern Europe, Bulgaria and Hungary, Costa Rica, Argentina, India, Papua New Guinea, and the African continent from Morocco in the north to South Africa in the south. He compiled a “lifelist” of more than 3,800 species — well over a third of the world’s species. He and Christy formed a small travel agency specializing in birding trips.

It was in Ephraim where he discovered his love for birding, which was nurtured by his friend Harold Wilson. Later in life, he purchased a cottage in Ephraim, where he and Mary, and later Christy, spent parts of their summers.

The family wishes to express its gratitude to the staff of Brookdale DeLand Senior Living Facility in DeLand, Florida for the care they gave to Ranny, and especially to Ranny’s and Christy’s Florida guardian, Manda Wright, for the care she gave to Ranny and for the guidance she gave to the family, all of whom lived at great distances.

There will be a private burial service at St. Rosalia Cemetery in Sister Bay.

Casperson Funeral Home is assisting the family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Ranny may be shared with his family through his tribute page at caspersonfuneralhome.com.