Gerard “Jerry” Frank Evagelatos, of Cheyenne, formerly of Riverton, died Wednesday, June 22 at Davis Hospice Center in Cheyenne. He was 71.
The youngest of three children, Jerry was born July 13, 1950, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Frank and Carmella (Marra) Evagelatos. Jerry’s father was an immigrant from Greece who owned a restaurant. His mother was the daughter of Italian immigrants. Mrs. Evagelatos died of a heart condition in 1953, and Frank later married Rosanna Fremgen, who adopted Jerry. As a child, Jerry rode the subway to school in Brooklyn and enjoyed playing stickball in the street. He loved baseball, and as a young child, he watched Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra and other baseball greats play at Yankee Stadium. When the New York Mets were founded in 1962, he became an avid and lifelong fan. He also enjoyed watching the Montreal Canadiens play hockey.
Jerry graduated from St. Francis Preparatory School in Brooklyn in 1968 and then took college classes, also at St. Francis Prep. Because of his immigrant heritage, Jerry developed a strong love for America and the opportunities it provided for his family. He chose to serve his country by enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in 1970. Following basic training and tech school in Texas, he was promoted to sergeant. He was then stationed at F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, where he met Nancy Good, a student at the University of Wyoming, on a blind date. The couple married in 1973 in Cody, and then both worked at various jobs while completing bachelor’s degrees in education, Nancy in 1974 and Jerry in 1977.
Jerry and Nancy made their home in Basin, where they both worked for Big Horn County School District #4, Jerry teaching fifth-grade math and Nancy teaching high school home economics. In 1978, Jerry decided to pursue a childhood dream of a career in law enforcement. He joined the Worland Police Department as a patrol officer and graduated from the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in 1979. Jerry and Nancy welcomed a daughter, Heather, that same year.
In 1982, the Evagelatos family moved to Riverton, where Jerry had been hired by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office. During his 30-year career with the department, he served as a patrol deputy, investigator, patrol sergeant, supervisor for the Victim/Witness unit and public information officer. As PIO, he made many appearances on TV and in newspapers, as well as broadcasts on local radio. He performed safety puppet shows for children at local schools and recorded Crimestoppers spots on KTRZ. He completed a second college degree, an associate in criminal justice from Central Wyoming College, in 1984. He also completed numerous law enforcement trainings and schools and traveled inside and outside the state to teach classes to other law enforcement agencies. He was the Riverton Jaycees Outstanding Young Law Enforcement Officer in 1986 and the Officer of the Year for the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office in 1990 and 1994. Jerry was a lifetime member of the Wyoming Peace Officers Association.
Jerry took a human approach to law enforcement, even winning the respect of many of the people he arrested. He received thank you letters from inmates who told Jerry that he inspired them to turn their lives around. He received wedding invitations and requests to act as best man and pall bearer from some of the people he helped. In Riverton, he was known for his friendly wave, humor and willingness to help people.
In 1983, Jerry and Nancy added another daughter, Kimberly, to their family. Jerry was a devoted family man who attended nearly all his children’s activities, sports, plays and events. He played racquetball, coached softball and served as an Odyssey of the Mind judge. He was also a part-time substitute teacher in Riverton schools. He spent many summer evenings umpiring softball and Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball, where he was known for calling balls and strikes with loud fanfare and enthusiasm.
Jerry retired after 33 years in law enforcement in 2010. He and Nancy relocated to Cheyenne in 2011 and focused on spending time with their six beloved grandchildren, who treated their “Pappou” like a celebrity, screaming with delight when he would visit. In retirement, he enjoyed the company of friends at outdoor concerts and events, crossword puzzles and the Scrabble Club at the Cheyenne Library. Jerry was a practical joker who was always ready to share a one-liner, silly song, impression or magic trick.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Nancy; daughters, Heather (Joshua) Robertson and Kimberly (Gavin) Beck; grandchildren, Zada Robertson, Samson Beck, Carmella Robertson, Simon Beck, Kate Robertson and Rose Beck; sister, Metrodora Fredricks; aunts, Maria Haralabatos and Helen Veliotis; and several nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws and close friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents, some uncles and aunts, and his sister, Marina Evagelatos.
A memorial service with law enforcement rites will be held July 14 at 11:00 a.m. at the Riverton Church of Christ, 39 Gas Hills Road. Former Fremont County Sheriff, Larry Mathews will officiate. A family graveside service with military honors will be held at a later date at Riverside Cemetery in Cody. Additionally, a memorial service was held in Jerry’s name on June 26 at St. Eleftherios Greek Orthodox Church in New York, NY, and a celebration of Jerry’s life will be held with friends in Cheyenne later this summer.
The family would like to thank the Cheyenne Regional Cancer Center for giving them one more year with Jerry. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center Foundation, 214 E. 23rd St., Cheyenne, WY 82001 or to the National Ataxia Foundation or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.