Joshua Leland Evans, the legendary Lelands founder and Chairman of the Board, died Dec. 27 after a lengthy illness, the auction house announced. He was 59.
Lelands issued this statement:
“Words cannot adequately express our sense of loss, nor our gratitude to Josh for his longtime dedication to Lelands and the hobby of sports memorabilia. Josh was a pioneering visionary, a passionate industry advocate, and a highly respected expert. We have lost and will dearly miss a larger-than-life personality who was omnipresent at industry events and touched countless lives during his 50-plus years of buying, collecting, and selling the ‘stuff’ (as he lovingly referred to collectibles).
“Joshua Evans came of age in an early era of sports collecting where money was not the motivating factor. Instead, it was a reverence and love for the stuff and those who made sports history that drove his and fellow enthusiast’s passions. When he founded Lelands after graduating from college in the mid-1980s, Josh did not know that trading cards and sports collectibles would someday develop into a multi-billion-dollar industry. But he did know there were countless fans who shared his passion, and that a marketplace to buy and sell the stuff would afford him the opportunity to make a living while enjoying his daily work.
“Those of us fortunate enough to have worked and collected alongside Josh have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Joshua Evans leaves behind a company that is built to last, and Lelands is and will continue to be an enduring legacy to his long and storied history in the hobby. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work that was his life passion.
“We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, associates, and the clients with whom he has developed long-standing relationships. We also want to thank all of you who have reached out to us to express your sympathies. Your thoughts, prayers, and shared memories are truly appreciated.
“A memorial service for Josh will be scheduled in the future to allow for a safe gathering.”
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Josh’s memory to the Kidney Transplant fund at St. Barnabas Medical Center.
To make an online donation, click here. Select “Kidney Transplant” as the designation and select “Tribute Gift” in memory of Joshua L. Evans.
By mail, write on check or enclose note with “Kidney Transplant Fund in memory of Joshua L. Evans” and send to: St. Barnabas Medical Center, Development Department, 95 Old Short Hills Road, West Orange, N.J. 07052.