You might be surprised at one of the words Richmond Hill businesswoman Laura Evans uses to describe herself – Cubbie.
The uninformed might not know exactly what that means. But the names Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Greg Maddux and Ferguson Jenkins might hit a strike with some. Evans is a diehard — a truly diehard — Chicago Cubs fan.
Evans is originally from central Illinois, about halfway between St. Louis and Chicago. She said she was faced with making a major decision early in life: whether to become a St. Louis Cardinals or Chicago Cubs fan.
She said feared if she chose the Cardinals, it would bring down the wrath of God from her minister father, who spent his entire life as a Cubs fan before passing away in 1998.
"I’m a third generation Chicago Cubs fan who grew up in Peoria and later Mahomet, Illinois," the financial advisor and partner with Edward Jones on Ford Avenue said.
Coast to coast to coast
Evans graduated from high school in 1985 and began the slow trek that would have her wind up in Richmond Hill. Since leaving Illinois, Evans described her journey as "coast to coast and two years in Germany."
"I was in Aschaffenburg, Germany, for two years and loved it. I was a military spouse and loved everything about Germany. Then I moved to Colorado Springs and later back to central Illinois," she said.
While there, she attended and graduated from Bradley University in Peoria with a bachelor’s degree in economics.
"When I went to college, I thought I wanted to be in government. My plan was that I would graduate and move to Washington, D.C., and work for some kind of agency or political body," she said. "But things didn’t work out, and I always think things work out for the best."
And it wasn’t a far step from that to working as a financial advisor.
"Edward Jones – it was 1994 and they started a program where they wanted to bring in college kids to intern around the firm and grow a crop of people that would lead the firm," she recalled. "So they picked six schools and one college graduate from each of the six schools, and Bradley was chosen and I was picked from Bradley.
"So I went to work at Edward Jones and moved to St. Louis and started working at the home office there."
And with the exception of three years, she has been with Edward Jones since.
She has moved steadily up through the corporate ranks, achieving the position of partner with the firm.
"I wanted to get out in the field where the brokers are. So the way to do that is to find a city and propose a place to do that. Edward Jones’ business model is, typically, to put the offices in small towns where the people are. It’s an awesome business model that was invented by Ted Jones and started in small towns around St. Louis," she said.
"I met someone whose office was in Jesup and moved here in 2004 and have been in South Georgia since. I could either start a new office or find one that was getting ready to turn over and maybe I could jump into that," she continued. "That’s what happened here in Richmond Hill and I’ve been here since."
Evans acknowledges that her job can be stressful but says she has found ways to mitigate that stress.
"About three or four years ago, I turned my desk around in the office. In the midst of a day where you are watching things go crazy all day long, you look outside at the birds – and I do have a pretty good flock of birds to keep me entertained – and I find it very restful and stress-relieving to watch them," Evans said. "I keep a life list of birds, a list of every bird I’ve seen. I’m flipping through my book trying to find this bird I’m seeing and it turns out to be a blue grosbeak. So I can add that to my life list. It was beautiful."
Evans said she hasn’t traveled to enjoy birdwatching but she wouldn’t rule it out for the future. But she has traveled with a friend to Joliet, Illinois, to see a redpoll, a bird typically not seen below Canada.
Evans is also an avid animal lover. One of her completed bucket list items took place during a recent trip to Alaska.
"We went to Kodiak Island and saw the grizzly bears there. It was stunning. I’ll never forget the moment that I’m standing on this little hilltop and here comes a giant grizzly bear walking straight toward me," she said. "He was a good distance from me but it was a beautiful sight."
Evans said she would love to travel to South America to see the exotic birds there and thinks her interest in birdwatching will continue to grow.
She also likes walking her rescue dogs, Dave and Greta, while also looking for birds.
"I love animals and give charitably to animal organizations," Evans said.
She has also spent time whale watching in Oregon.
"I just stood on the coast for about 40 minutes before I saw my first pods. At first, it was just the spouts but then I saw them. I thought I had died and gone to heaven."
As much as she loves animals, she said she has just as deep a spot in her heart for the Chicago Cubs.
"We listened to Cubs games on the radio and watched them on TV. My dad’s fantasy was to be a bleacher bum at Wrigley Field. My dad used to take us as kids to Chicago. He taught us to ride public transportation. We would ride the ‘L’ from downtown Chicago to Wrigley Field. It took us through public housing and my dad wanted us to see that. I’ve been to maybe 30 Cubs games," she said.
World Series winner
"The last game I saw in Chicago was the night they clinched a trip to the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sometimes when I go to games, I will even keep score."
She said the major influences in her life were her parents and brother.
"My dad taught me to love cities, and I love that because even to this day I love being in an urban environment, being engaged with people. I love New York City. I travel there at least once a year," she said.
"He also taught me a lot about compassion. He was the guy who would visit people in jail. He was an amazing guy. He worked with people who had AIDS when other people wouldn’t help them. My mother was the most loving, nurturing person you could meet," Evans continued. "I was so lucky to have them as parents. My brother is a pastor. He is in Pontiac, Illinois. We have such a connection. It’s amazing.
"My mom and dad were very giving people."
Between the Cubs, loving animals and watching birds, Evans said she has a very full and satisfying life – although it might be a shade fuller if the Cubs would win the World Series again, she said.