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Stuart Evey, credited with helping to launch ESPN, dies at 84 in Spokane

Stuart W. Evey, a North Central High grad who helped launch ESPN, died on Dec. 8 in Spokane at the age of 84. (Jed Conklin / The Spokesman-Review)
Stuart W. Evey, a North Central High grad who helped launch ESPN, died on Dec. 8 in Spokane at the age of 84. (Jed Conklin / The Spokesman-Review)

The bowl season is upon us – 41 games from Dec. 16 through the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 8. Thirty-eight will appear on the ESPN family of stations.

But the man generally credited with giving birth to “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” won’t be a witness this year.

Stuart W. Evey, who attended Finch Elementary and North Central High School, died Dec. 8 at his home in Spokane. He was 84.

His daughter, Christine Evey, was quoted in the New York Times as saying the cause was complications of diabetes.

Evey was born Feb. 26, 1933, in Havre, Montana, and lived in nearby Chinook before the family moved to Washington. His father, Clare, was a railroad dispatcher and administrator.

After graduating from North Central in 1951, Evey went to the University of Washington, where he studied business, eventually turning his degree into executive positions with Getty Oil Company.

In 1979, as vice president of Getty’s nonpetroleum businesses, he persuaded his bosses to invest in the start-up that became ESPN and then helped manage the 24-hour sports network, serving as chief executive and chairman of the board. In 1982, with Evey in charge, the network sold a 10 percent interest to ABC.

Two years later, after Texaco acquired Getty and sold its stake in ESPN, Evey was out, also ending his 26-year career with Getty.

Evey said he was stung by the abruptness of his departure from ESPN. In a 2007 interview with KHQ, he said, “The thing was, it was really beginning to shine. I was hurt about that. Here’s the one thing I shepherded through that people said couldn’t happen.”

In 2004, he published his story, “Creating an Empire: ESPN – The No-Holds-Barred Story of Power, Ego, Money and Vision that Transformed a Culture” in which one review said “he details the difficult, thrilling, and contentious creation of ESPN in this insider’s account.”

The family obituary said, “after negotiating the sale of ESPN in 1984, Stu went on to lending his expertise and name to multiple startups, never quite able to retire.”

He is survived by his wife, Mary Daily; daughter Christine Evey and Michael Richardson; daughter Susan (John) Glamuzina; grandson Christopher; and granddaughters Ulyana and Lily.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 6 at Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 127 E. 12th St., followed by a reception at Manito Country Club.

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