James Anthony Evans, 7th March 1936 – 12th August 2021

Dorothy Grace Evans, née Garland, 30th September 1935 – 21st May 2011

Tony and Dorothy in late 1984Tony and Dorothy in late 1984, when they were both working at the University







Tony, as James Anthony was always known, was born in Croydon and raised with his younger sister.  His parents, originally from Liverpool, moved regularly throughout their lives, and Tony spent his childhood in London and Manchester.  He went to Birmingham University, taking a BSc  in mathematical physics in 1957 and staying on for a PhD in theoretical nuclear physics, which he gained in 1960 with a thesis entitled Vibrational States in Light Nuclei.

Tony then worked on research projects at the Universities of Minnesota (USA) and Copenhagen (Denmark).  In April 1961, while in Minnesota, he met Dorothy, a nurse from Argentina.  During their courtship, she taught him to speak Spanish.  They married in Copenhagen on 5th May 1962.  After a further research post for Tony at the University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), they settled in 1963 in Argentina, where Tony had been appointed Professor of Physics at the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires.  Dorothy returned to work at The British Hospital.

Following a brutal military attack on staff and students (The Night of the Long Batons) in 1966, they decided that it would be safer to raise their family in England (by then, they had two children with a third on the way).  Of the posts that Tony was offered he chose Sussex, starting in January 1967.  The family made their journey by boat, settling in Peacehaven.

During the early 1970s, he took an 18-month sabbatical to return to a now more politically stable Argentina.  Dorothy set off first for the long boat trip, with their four children and supported by a family friend who was travelling to take up an au-pair post.  Tony flew out to join them once term had finished and he had secured tenants for the family home.  This was an idyllic time for the family, living in a house that adjoined the home of Dorothy’s parents and other family members living locally.  Tony returned to work at the University while the children attended local nurseries and schools.

When it was time to return, Dorothy and Tony planned the most interesting trip that they could afford, beginning with a flight over the Andes to Chile, where they boarded a ship.  The voyage took them up the west coast of South America and through the Panama Canal before crossing the Atlantic to Lisbon.  From there they made several stops in the Mediterranean before disembarking in Naples.  They then toured Italy before returning to England by train, taking a detour to Zagreb (visiting the Best Man from their wedding).  All this was achieved without losing a single piece of luggage.

On returning to Sussex, Dorothy started to work at the University in the Health Centre. For the children, it meant that much of the school holidays were spent exploring the beautiful campus and playing with the children who lived there.

During his years at Sussex, Tony worked closely with his colleague J. P. (Phil) Elliott.  He published at least 37 refereed papers, which attracted 691 citations.  He often made academic visits abroad, his children remembering his trips to Scotland, Sweden, Greece, Poland, Lebanon and back to Argentina.  From 1980 to 2000 he worked as a part-time course tutor in Physics for the Open University, helping to redesign their course, and he also taught A-Level Mathematics at Lewes Prison.  Tony was a member of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Astronomical Society and the British Astronomical Association.

In September 1989 Tony suffered his first heart attack.  He was on the campus at the time, and his recovery was aided by the prompt and excellent care he was given by the Health Centre staff before going to hospital.  Within a year, Dorothy retired on health grounds when it became clear that her forgetfulness was something more serious.  She was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Syndrome.  Tony chose to be her primary care giver until her death.

In his early years of retirement, as well as caring for Dorothy Tony continued work in nuclear physics, attending lectures put on by his scientific societies when he could.  He took advanced Spanish, and learned to play Bridge, meeting former colleagues to play.  He was Treasurer for the local Alzheimer’s Society group, one of many charities that he continued to support for the rest of his life.  During this time, his father became unable to care for himself so left Liverpool to live with Tony and Dorothy.

Later, when Tony was able to get out more, he enjoyed visiting London.  He would go to lectures, museums, concerts, art galleries and the theatre.  There were always eager companions in his children, grandchildren and sister.  He was an avid reader and had loved steam trains since childhood.  Another great passion was football.  Like his father, he was a lifelong Liverpool fan.

He was a keen amateur astronomer.  From 2004 he contributed annual ephemerides for three planets to the British Astronomical Association for publication in its handbook.  During the first Covid lockdown, despite failing vision, he worked on putting his expertise into a book.  He was thrilled when Mechanics of The Solar System: An Introduction to Mathematical Astronomy (Brown Dog Books) was published in early 2021.  He dedicated the book to Dorothy.

Tony died unexpectedly on 12th August.  Tony and Dorothy are survived by their children Anahi, Jim, Ariane and Daniel, and by twelve grandchildren and two great-grandsons.  Their family plan to scatter the combined ashes of Dorothy and Tony in May, on what would have been their 60th anniversary.

Obituary assembled by Charles Goldie from contributions of Tony's colleague Robert Smith, of Tony himself, and of Tony and Dorothy's children.

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