Evelyn McPhail: A Success Story
“When I hear people talk about ‘poor neglected orphan children,’
I know they have never visited a place like Palmer Home. I know
because I spent my childhood at Palmer Home, along with
my sister, Jacqueline, and brother, Richard. We had
the most wonderful experience imaginable.”
— Evelyn McPhail
Former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee
When a fatal car crash in 1997 took the life of 68-year-old Evelyn McPhail, her loss was mourned by many, particularly by her closest friends — including a former President of the United States, governors, senators, and a number of congressmen. In her 68 years, Evelyn touched the lives of countless people, from ordinary civilians to the men and women who directed the course of our country during her time working for the Republican party.
Evelyn McPhail captures the essence of what it means to be a “success story.” Her father died at an early age from tuberculosis, leaving Evelyn and her two siblings with a widowed mother in a time when women weren’t actively in the workplace. Her family shuffled from relative to relative, moving from one house to another with very little hope of finding a reliable and long-term position that would allow Evelyn’s mother to raise three children on her own. “The word orphanage has a bad connotation in society today,” says Evelyn’s older sister Jacqueline. “But our family feels like it was the best thing that ever happened to us.”
Palmer Home was instrumental in Evelyn McPhail’s life. It was through her upbringing at Palmer Home that she came to know Jesus at an early age, a foundation that helped her throughout her life. “Evelyn was stubborn as a child,” says Jacqueline. “She would stick with what she believed and hang on to the end. As a child, I resented her being so stubborn, but it really helped her later on.”
Evelyn found her calling in the political field. When her son asked her why she wanted to work in politics (“everyone in politics is crooked,” he said), Evelyn explained that getting involved and working to change that was exactly why she wanted to do it.
Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi, speaks highly of Evelyn. “She was very strong,” Barbour said. “She bent over backwards to be fair, to be inclusive, and to give people credit. She worked hard to make sure people got the credit they deserved.”
The state party’s role is to educate, communicate, and motivate. Evelyn flourished in her role as the head of political education. She would lead meetings of party leaders and candidates with seminars on how to educate others on campaigning and make campaigns successful from the ground up, starting at the grassroots level. Ultimately, Evelyn was elected co-chairman of the national party and served as the premier political education teacher for the National Republican Party for four years.
She is a shining testimony for what Palmer Home does — who they are and what they stand for. A wonderful businesswoman, bona fide political leader, and faithful friend — what a beautiful example of how ministries like this can transform the lives of our future leaders.