By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
WELCH, WV – After the loss of owner Richard Evans, the future of R&R Insurance in Welch was on a lot of minds in the community, but they’re determined to be around for years to come.
R&R Insurance in Welch opened for business in 1990, co-founded by Richard Evans and Rick Allen. While Allen eventually left, Evans maintained the name through the years as R&R came to stand for the best in hospitality and courtesy.
In Richard’s absence, his wife Ginger and longtime employee Brittany Blevins are carrying on the legacy.
“I wanted to carry on what he’s been doing for all these years,” said Ginger Evans about her decision to keep the business going. “I think he would want that, for us to stay and maintain the best quality of both entertainment and business.”
According to Ginger, Richard’s kind, personable approach stemmed from a deep love for the people of McDowell County.
“He loved the people here and service to the community,” said Ginger. “He would always say ‘I sleep in Bluefield, but I live in Welch.’ He wanted to be here more than home.”
Traveling the same roads with Richard every day was a fellow insurance agent, Roy Ellison, of Southern Insurance.
“Richard would go flying by me and always beep the horn to let you know who it was,” said Ellison with a smile. “He was the salesman of salesmen.”
An insurance claim following a car accident actually brought the two closer, after Ellison came upon Richard moments after wrecking along Route 52.
“I pulled off and saw Richard was injured,” said Ellison. “I spoke with a woman that witnessed the wreck, gathering information about the accident.”
When Ellison checked on Richard a few weeks later, his own insurance claim was considered at-fault. Ellison passed on the information gathered, and after being called by the insurance company, Evans was awarded for the vehicle and some of his medical expenses.
“I didn’t think I did anything special, but he went out of his way to be kind to me in any way he could,” said Ellison. “He even helped us get another company at Southern Insurance that he already had. He could have blocked it, but instead he encouraged me to go for it, maybe even at his own detriment.”
After Richard’s passing, the President of that same insurance company called Ellison, asking them to help R&R get back on their feet. Ellison and co-worker Teresa Nester spent time at R&R to offer a helping hand.
“He was an icon in Welch,” said Ellison. “People like Richard aren’t replaceable. I remember coming home a year or two after the accident. There went Richard right back to flying past me. Beep, beep.”
Ginger and Brittany both attested to the impact Evans made on the community, as friends still wander into the office looking for their buddy.
“Richard always came out to greet everybody, no matter what type of day he was having,” said Brittany, who started working with him when she was 15 years old. “I started cleaning the office at first, while my cousin was the Secretary here. When she had a child, I took over and have been here ever since.”
Calling him a second father figure, Brittany said Richard helped her with everything from getting a driver’s license to teaching her about the insurance business.
“He was there when I needed him, regardless of whether it was a personal issue or work related,” said Brittany. “Everything I do here, I learned from the best.”
Prior to insurance, Richard Evans worked as a teacher for over a decade, bringing the same enthusiasm to the classroom as he did with business dealings.
“He taught me in several classes at Bluefield State and Southern West Virginia Community College,” said local historian Jay Chatman. “I would actually ride with him to school and it was always a treat to take his class. He was very innovative in the classroom.”
Evans transitioned to insurance in 1975 before finding a full-time position with Prudential a year later. There he earned multiple honors and distinctions and continued through the years after settling in at R&R Insurance’s current location.
Although he was a charismatic salesman, Richard also was a giving soul to the people passing through the doors.
“I would fuss about him buying pop to haul all the way down the road,” said Ginger Evans. “He gave more of it away than he sold.”
“He definitely went in the hole on pop,” said Brittany with a laugh. “But it gave him joy to give something back.”
Ginger and Brittany have grown close over the months since Richard’s passing, determined to continue on his level of service to the community of McDowell County.
“This was my last promise to him,” said Ginger. “To keep it going, maybe for another 50 years.”
“As long as I’m here, it will always be R&R insurance,” said Brittany.