Jane Gillespie Evans, 84, a resident of Palo Alto, died Dec. 1 at her home at Vi (formerly Hyatt Classic Residence) after a long battle with cancer.
She was born Jan. 11, 1927, and raised in Houston, Texas, the daughter of James Walker Gillespie and Fleetwood Vinson Gillespie. She graduated in 1946 from Rice University with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. In 1948 she married her college sweetheart, John Evans, whom she met while he was completing his Ph.D. in nuclear physics at Rice. She worked at Union Carbide in Texas, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico and the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho.
When she and John moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, she quickly realized the importance of electronics and became the first woman to graduate with a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from San Jose State University in 1965. She subsequently was the first female engineering graduate to be hired by Hewlett-Packard Company (HP).
While working at HP, she attended Santa Clara University, completing an MBA. For 25 years she played a significant role in HP's rise as a global provider of electronics and computers. She has been a role model to countless engineers, women and men, exemplifying the best of the profession.
She was an active leader of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE), serving at local, regional and national levels. She was Chair of the Board of Directors of the 1997 WESCON Conference. Under her leadership, WESCON was held in Silicon Valley for the first time.
She was a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society of Women Engineers, where she also served on the national Board of Trustees. She received the IEEE's Centennial Medal, the Career Action Center's Woman of Vision Award, San Jose State University's Engineering Award of Distinction, and the Girl Scouts of Santa Clara County's World of Today and Tomorrow award. In 1999 she was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame.
She and John lived together in Los Altos, Calif., celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 1998, shortly before John's death in 1999. A member of a close family, her sisters Minne Williams and Anne Palmer preceded her in death. She is survived by her two nephews, Christopher Moore and Charles Moore.
Friends and family are invited to celebrate her life at a memorial service Monday, Dec. 12, at 3 p.m. at the Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Ave., Los Altos.
The family suggests that any gifts in her name be made to Cardiac Therapy Foundation of the Midpeninsula, 4000 Middlefield Road, Suite G-8, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4761.