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First female deputy not forgotten

Courtney Astolfi • Jan 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM

The first woman to patrol Erie County roads as a sheriff’s deputy died this week.


More than a half century after Mary “Meve” Evans proved she was just as capable as her male counterparts and began her long career as a public servant, her legacy lives on.

View her obituary HERE

Born on a small farm on Hull Road in 1920 and graduated from Sandusky High School in 1938, Evans was an Erie County woman through and through. She began her career in the Erie County sheriff’s office in 1957.

“She told me the best job she ever had was at the sheriff’s office, and the most fun she ever had was working the road,” Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

Gary Evans reflected on his mother’s role as a pioneer who paved the way for local women in law enforcement.

“At the time, she didn’t think a lot about being the first — but over the years, she was very proud,” Evans said.

During her stint as a deputy, Evans discovered a cause that would grow close to her heart. “She kept an eye on the prisoners more than the guys did. She was a bit more compassionate with them” Evans said.

When the Erie County jail was still located downtown, Evans took it upon herself to look out for the well-being of inmates being held in sometimes-deplorable conditions.

“She was tough but fair, and she wanted to make sure people at the county jail received proper medical care” Sigsworth said.

Evans later worked as the Erie County Clerk of Courts and was elected the first female county commissioner in 1980.

Even after her election, Evans’ passion for inmate affairs continued. She started the process of relocating the Erie County jail to its current Columbus Avenue site— and to this day, her portrait hangs in its entryway.

Evans died Jan. 10 at the age of 93. At her funeral on Wednesday, four local female law enforcement officers — Erie County deputies Alexis Harvey and Beth Beatty, Sandusky police Sgt. Tracey Susana and Perkins police officer Tonya Corbin — served as pallbearers, along with Sigsworth and two of Evans’ former deputy co-workers.

“I never got the impression she was trying to prove a point by doing these jobs. She wanted to do them, and she did them well,” Sigsworth said.

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