Ken Evans, the city of Wichita’s former director of strategic communications, has died following a two-year battle with brain cancer.
“He was an inspiration for everyone,” said City Manager Robert Layton. “He kept such a positive attitude throughout his illness.”
Before Layton hired Evans, 54, in 2015, the city had always had a public information officer.
“We wanted someone who could think more strategically about how we communicated with the public,” Layton said.
He said he hired Evans for the new position due to his varied background working in the public sector in Kansas City and corporate communications in Wichita, including at Spirit AeroSystems.
Layton said Evans was a sounding board for staff and elected officials, “and I think he understood this community well enough to make sure we were putting in place authentic mechanisms to talk to the people we serve.”
Through social media, Evans shared his battle with glioblastoma multiforme and even named a recurrent tumor “Fat Man.” He also shared his deep religious faith along with details of an experimental treatment that used electric fields through a cap in his head to help stop cancer cells from dividing.
Although Evans retired from the city earlier this year, Mayor Jeff Longwell said he’d just been texting with him in the last two weeks, and “he was still so incredibly positive and just still giving me great advice.”
“Ken Evans and I were able just to strike this wonderful relationship that enabled Ken to say anything he wanted to say to me,” Longwell said. “I could absolutely absorb it regardless of how critical it was. I’m going to miss that. I’m going to miss Ken. I’m going to miss his wisdom.”