When Pat Evans decided to take three months off from KARE to care for his 95-year-old mother, he fully expected to return to the TV station that he has called home for more than 25 years.
But family comes first.
Evans, who did everything from hosting morning shows to forecasting the weather, confirmed Monday that he has left the NBC affiliate for good and moved to California.
“I’m not retiring,” Evans said by phone from Palm Springs. “But after 12 weeks, I had exhausted my unpaid family leave. The station wanted me to come back, but my mom and my responsibilities are here.”
John Remes, KARE’s general manager, said he understood his friend’s choice. “Unfortunately, he can’t be in two places at once,” Remes said. “He made a family-before-career decision, which I totally respect.”
The station has lost other on-air personalities in recent weeks. Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard was fired in May for what the station called “continued violations of KARE 11’s news ethics and other policies.” Later in the month, Jason Disharoon departed and has landed at the Weather Channel.
For Evans, the departure was strictly for personal reasons.
His mom, who had relocated to Palm Springs two years ago, was hospitalized in January with pneumonia.
“It became necessary for me to be here more,” said Evans, whose father passed away in 2017. “She’s particularly vulnerable with the coronavirus out there. She’s fragile. It’s a big hit economically, but I don’t have much of a choice. It’s my responsibility.”
Evans, who grew up in San Francisco, moved to the Twin Cities in 1994 after stints in Asheville, N.C., Tucson, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif. He brought his upbeat personality to a number of shows, including “Showcase Minnesota” and “KARE 11 Today.” He most recently co-anchored the 4 p.m. newscast and reported on feature stories.
“He always was such a gentleman, on and off the air,” said colleague Belinda Jensen, who came to the Twin Cities six months after Evans arrived. “He always performed with an old-school charm and brought out the best in people in his interviews and with his co-hosts. He is a great guy and I am glad we had a chance to work together in this crazy business for so long.”
One of Evans’ greatest gifts was the ability to exude calm in a storm — literally and figuratively.
“When bad weather was breaking, I never acted like the world was ending,” he said. “That’s something I’m proud of. It’s helping me now in this part of life.”
While Evans played a role in covering major stories like the Sept. 11 attacks and the I-35W bridge collapse, he got the most pleasure out of chatting with authors. Among his favorites: Nora Ephron, Wayne Dyer and David Sedaris.
He treasures friendships he made during more than a quarter-century in the Twin Cities, most notably his 12-year relationship with partner Kurt Paben, who works for Hosts Global, a destination management company. The two of them are now living next to a golf course, despite the fact that Evans describes his game as “terrible.”
Evans said it’s unlikely he will return to television. He said the next chapter in his professional career will probably be on a different platform. He also wants to carve out time to advocate for the importance of caring for elderly parents.
Evans said he regrets being unable to say goodbye on the air, although there is talk of the station airing a video message from him.
“I want to let people know how much I appreciated them,” he said. “They say you leave your heart in San Francisco. But a big piece of my heart is in Minnesota.”