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Jefferson Evans
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Obituary for Jefferson Evans

Jefferson Evans (Jeff) was born June 2, 1923 in Crawfordville, a town in Taliaferro County, Georgia to the late John Evans and Pearl Chapman Evans. Jeff was one of 14 living children. He was educated in Georgia in a school built by his father and the men of the town. His family owned over 250 acres of land thus requiring all the children to rise early to do farm chores before going to school. In those days, it was thought to be more important to work the fields and support the home than to get an education. So, after completing the eighth grade, Jeff left school to work on the farm with his father and brothers. As a young teen Jeff left the farm and went to Washington DC to live with his sister. Being a strong minded individual and hard worker, Jeff sought to make a more suitable living. With limited education and being a black man, Jeff found that he had to work three times harder and longer hours than the average white man to make ends meet. With the onset of World War II Jeff, as did most black men, found that enlisting in the armed forces was the only guaranteed of getting a ‘good’ paying job, he then enlisted in the US Army. In the service, he drove military trucks; upon receiving an honorable discharge, he used his military experience to establish The Red Ball Express trucking company having 5 delivery trucks in operation.

In 1945 Jefferson met and married Otelia Kirby Evans that formed a union of 69 years. Jeff and Otelia had three children, Bunardy Evans Poitier, the late Dale Evans and the late Calvin Evans. In the early years of their marriage, Jeff had several positions as a trucker, painter, television repairman and studied cosmetology. During those years he rightfully earned the title of “Jeff, jack of all trades”.

In 1944, Jeff applied and was accepted in the New Haven School of Culinary located on Yale campus. He then became the first African American to graduate from the New Haven School of Culinary in the class of 1944. For several years, Jeff spent many long hours working to improve his talents and cooking skills. While perfecting many different cuisines he was elevated from cook to head chef status and became an excellent one at that. He soon earned the nickname “Jeff the Chef’’ when he perfected the skill of deboning a chicken or turkey. In addition, he also perfected the skills of creating delicious meals from left overs. Chef Jeff wanted to share his talents, so he decided to take a teaching position at Johnston & Wales and later Hype Park Culinary Institute of America. He loved teaching but he still had dreams and desires to open his own restaurant.

In 1982, after being an essential part of many successful restaurants; Jeff decided to open and operate his own restaurant which he named “The One-N-Only”. His dream had finally materialized having a sole food restaurant featuring a full menu ranging from chitterlings to veal cordon bleu. “The One-N-Only” was now Jeff’s successful business having celebrities stopping bye for a good home cooked meal. As the years began to catch up with him, Chef Jeff decided to close his restaurant and retire to gardening at his home in Cheshire. Having a passion to grow large varieties of vegetables, Jeff took pride in sharing them with his neighbors and church family.

Retired now from gardening, Jeff the Chef spends time experimenting and creating healthy drinks and dishes from a variety of vegetables, none of which he has named.


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