Hal G. Evarts Jr., a 49-year resident of La Jolla whose literary career spanned more than 50 years and included stints as a free-lance writer, journalist and novelist, died Sunday after a fall at home. He was 74.
The Kansas native collected two Edgar Allan Poe Awards from the Mystery Writers of America for his novels “Treasure River” in 1964 and “Smugglers’ Road” in 1968.
In the early 1960s, he started writing adventure and mystery stories for young readers, including the popular “Big Foot.”
The American West was the theme of many of Evarts’ earlier novels, including “Colorado Crossing,” “Man Without a Gun” and “The Sundown Kid.”
After graduating in 1936 from Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English, Evarts traveled around the world. He incorporated his experiences in such remote areas as Tibet and western China into magazine articles, short stories and novels.
He wrote 28 novels and more than 100 short stories.
Evarts’ writing career began in 1935 as a reporter with the San Diego Evening Tribune. In 1939, he signed on with the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune in Paris. After only a few months as a foreign correspondent, he was out of a job when the impending German occupation forced the office to suspend operations in 1940.
He returned to Europe in 1945 as a combat historian before settling in La Jolla the same year and resuming his career as a free-lance writer.
Evarts is survived by his wife, Dorothea Abbot Evarts; a daughter, Ginger Wadsworth of Orinda; sons John of Santa Ynez and Bill of San Diego and five grandchildren.
The family requests that friends remember him with gifts to the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Assn., Hal G. Evarts Memorial Library Fund, P.O. Box 311, Borrego Springs, CA 92004.