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A Scholarship Blessing for Russell D. Evett, M.D.

May 19, 2021

It was 1953 when Russell D. Evett, M.D., was faced with the difficulty of paying for medical school. The Norfolk native was a senior chemistry major and at the top of his class at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. He had been accepted to the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond but lacked the funds to attend.

“My mother saw an article in the newspaper about a new scholarship for medical students, saved it, and told me to check on it,” Evett recalled. The article highlighted the new Florence L. Smith Scholarship administered by what was then The Norfolk Foundation – predecessor to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

Evett applied and was among the first 23 recipients of the Smith Scholarship, which has helped more than 750 physicians pay for their education. Today, it still assists multiple Virginia medical students – most for four years of study.

“I was blessed to receive this scholarship,” said Evett, a retired Norfolk internist. “It made all the difference in the world. It covered my bills, books, and the cost of my microscope.”

Evett has made plans for repaying the generosity that helped him by arranging for a future bequest to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. “I received so much that I find it a privilege to have the opportunity to give back,” Evett says.

Evett and his twin sister both graduated from Norfolk’s Maury High School and were the first in their family to go to college. Their father was a railroad clerk who became a loan officer. Their mother taught English at Norfolk middle and high schools for 40 years.

After graduating from medical school in 1957, Evett spent two years in the Navy stationed in his home region at a medical center and with an aircraft carrier. He then finished his residency at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota before returning in 1964 to Norfolk, where he and his late wife, Gail, raised their family.

Evett practiced internal medicine until retiring in 1998. He served as both president of the Norfolk Medical Society and the medical staff at Sentara Leigh Memorial Hospital. For 12 years, he was a Virginia delegate to the American Medical Association meetings.

In retirement he enjoys singing in the choir at Ghent United Methodist Church and learning about astronomy.

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