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ESPN began with a birth in Havre

One of ESPN's original leaders, the late Stuart Evey was born in Havre, lived in Chinook


January 12, 2018

Courtesy Photo

Stuart Evey, who was the first head of the sport's empire that is ESPN, passed away in December in Spokane, Washington. Evey was born in Havre.

Havre’s historical roots run deep, very deep. From the days of the dinosaurs, centuries of Native American history, the Wild West, Lewis and Clark, to James J. Hill and the railroad, the town is rich with history.

That history also includes the most famous sports network in the history of television as well.

Yes, that’s right. The roots of one of the most influential people in getting ESPN off the ground, and on the air, are embedded right here in Havre.

In December, Getty Oil Company mogul Stuart W. Evey passed away due to complications of diabetes. Evey was 84, and was born in Havre and lived in Chinook during his youth. His father was a railroad dispatcher and administrator.

Evey was the man who was credited with giving birth to ESPN, “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.

According to ESPN’s biography, ESPN was founded by Bill Rasmussen, his son Scott Rasmussen and Aetna insurance agent Ed Eagan. The Rasmussens received financial aid from J. B. Doherty and K. S. Sweet Associates on an interim basis, but they were interested in finding permanent investors. Doherty shared a similar sentiment and after several failed attempts to do so, he approached Evey, a Getty Oil Company executive who was the vice president of nonoil operations. Evey was immediately interested in the venture and brought it to the attention of Getty's finance manager, George Conner. Though a bit wary, the company decided to invest in the project by February 1979.

From there, Evey eventually became chief executive officer and chairman of the board at ESPN, essentially having complete control of the company. Evey was responsible for moving ESPN from a small-market cable company in Connecticut to a global phenomenon, including selling a 10 percent interest in the company to ABC in 1982.

Evey, who was with Getty for 26 years, would eventually be moved out of ESPN when Texaco acquired Getty and abruptly sold its stake in ESPN.

In 2004, Evey published the book “Creating an Empire: ESPN — The No-Holds-Barred Story of Power, Ego, Money and the Vision that Transformed a Culture.”

Evey began his career with Getty Oil Company, starting at the bottom and working his way up to VP of worldwide nonoil operations, a position he held after 26 years of service. His rise was accelerated due to his close relationship with George Getty, who was his mentor during this time. Evey's responsibilities at Getty included commercial real estate, lumber and plywood mills in the U.S. and Africa, agri-business holdings in California, and hotel and resort holdings in the U.S. and Mexico.

When evey and his family left Montana, they moved to Spokane, where he graduated from North Central High School. It was said Evey always had an insatiable thirst for sports, both as an athlete and a fan. He attended the University of Washington, where he was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and graduated in 1958, following serving in the U.S. Army in Berlin, Germany.

Following his days with Getty and ESPN, Evey served on the boards of many companies including Cyan, Mitsubishi Oil Company, GO Energy, Louisiana Gaming Company Vadium Technology, and H.F. Ahmanson and Co. He was also a consultant and business developer and spent his later years as a guest speaker. He spoke several times to students in various programs at the University of Montana.

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.”

And while Evey accomplished so much in his great life, his roots are entrenched in Havre and Chinook, and therefore, so are the roots of the most recognizable brand and names in all of sports boradcasting, and television — ESPN.


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