MELVIN HERBERT EVANS, the first elected Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, was born on August 7, 1917, in Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, soon after the island had been purchased from Denmark by the United States. After graduating from high school on St. Thomas, Evans received his B.S. from Howard University in 1940 and a M.D. from the Howard College of Medicine four years later. He then served in a variety of medical and public health positions for the U.S. and the Virgin Islands. He served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Medical Administrative Corps from 1942 to 1945. From 1959 to 1967 Evans served as the Islands’ health commissioner. He returned to private practice for two years before President Nixon appointed him Governor of the Islands in July 1969, and he was elected in November 1970. During his term, he chaired the Southern Governors’ Conference from 1973 to 1974. In 1978 he was elected to the House and was sworn in to the 96th Congress on January 3, 1979. Evans served on the Armed Services, Interior and Insular Affairs, and Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committees. He introduced legislation to alleviate the Islands’ critical shortage of doctors at local health facilities by permitting foreign physicians to practice there. He also attempted to create farm credit loans to local fishing and agricultural industries and he succeeded in getting the Islands included under the definition of a “state” so that they would receive full law enforcement funding. He was defeated for his congressional seat in 1980, was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago a year later and died in his hometown on November 27, 1984.
Governors of the American States, Territories and Commonwealths, National Governors Association, 1974.