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Head Scout says good-bye

By Staff
Noel Evans becoming a volunteer after 37 years with the Boy Scouts
POPCORN TIME Noel Evans, Scout executive of the Choctaw Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, inventories popcorn products that are being sold now to raise money for local Scout units. He is retiring on Wednesday after heading up the Choctaw Area Council for 17 years. PHOTO BY KYLE CARTER / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Sept. 28, 2003
When Noel Evans talks about Scouting, his eyes sparkle the same way they must have in 1951, when he first joined the Boy Scouts in Meridian at the age of 12.
A broad grin spans his face as he recalls hiking up Sand Mountain and nights spent at Camp Binachi, sitting around a fire with other Scouts and scaring each other with stories about old Mossback.
The story goes that Mossback was chief of one of two Indian tribes in the area many years ago. There was a famine and Mossback and the chief of the other tribe decided there wasn't enough food for both tribes. One of them would have to leave.
So, it was decided the chiefs would do battle and the one who won would stay with his tribe. The loser's tribe would have to relocate.
He smiled again. "It was fun," he said.
It's some of the stuff that makes boys boys. It's some of the fun they share on their way to becoming men, along with their weekly Troop meetings.
Evans said the Scouting philosophy is still making a difference in the lives of young people. He has seen it first-hand during his 37 years with the Boy Scouts of America. He has served as Scout executive of the Choctaw Area Council for 17 years. He is retiring from the post on Wednesday.
A life of service
Evans' professional career with the Scouts began in 1966 with a commission from the National Training School of the Boy Scouts of America. He moved to Philadelphia, where he served as district executive for several years.
Later he was district executive in Meridian and Gadsden, Ala., and as director of field service in Anniston, Ala. He was Scout executive in Clarksdale before taking the office in Meridian in 1988.
During his years as Scout executive, Evans cited several accomplishments, including remodeling Camp Binachi, growth in the council endowment fund from about $300,000 to more than $1 million, and evolution of the Learning for Life program, a character education Scouting initiative.
A selection committee worked on finding a replacement for Evans more than two months.
John Beauregard of Lafayette, La., has been hired as his replacement. Evans said Beauregard is scheduled to start work as the council's new Scout executive on Oct. 16.
Looking forward
Evans said he has been considering retirement for more than a year. He said the timing is right for him to step down and he is comfortable with the strong council staff that is in place.
He also plans to try out the new fly rod his son bought him.
He and his wife, Nida, have two children, a son, Benjamin Noel Evans Jr., and a daughter, Amy Evans.
Scouting has been a part of Evans' life for nearly all of his life as a Scout, as an executive and as a father. He has grandsons who are now in Scouting in Tennessee's Memphis Area Council.
Evans has seen Scouting evolve over the years and he said it will continue to do so.
The Boy Scouts began in 1910. At that time, Evans said, Scouts earned merit badges for learning how to catch a runaway horse and buggy.
Evans believes Scouting has a good future as long as its focus remains the best interest of young people.