Jack Evans, who waited 54 years to wed his longtime partner George Harris on the day the Supreme Court legalized gay married in all 50 states, died Thursday night at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. He was 86.
Rev. Eric Folkerth, pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church, where Evans and Harris, 83, were members, announced the death.
“I’m sorry to inform you that Jack Evans died last night at Baylor hospital. As many of you know, Jack had been fighting lung issues for some weeks and was never able to overcome them. George and I prayed with Jack before his death, and he was definitely at peace at the end,” Folkerth wrote on Facebook.
The men, of Dallas, were the first same-sex couple to marry in Dallas County, Texas, on June 26, 2015, soon after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision.
On the day of his wedding, Evans told PEOPLE: “We’re having a blast.”
The couple had been through their share of hardships (both were fired for being gay at one point in their careers) but had said it was worth the wait – though not so much for the “I do’s.”
“I was more concerned about when I was going to kiss!” Evans said, laughing.
Harris told PEOPLE last year: “I came to Dallas in 1956 and we being Texans said, ‘We want to wait this out.’ And I said, ‘I hope we live this out.’ ”
“Jack was gregarious, funny, a strong believer in social justice, and a mentor to generations of LGBTQ people, and their straight allies. He lived through remarkable social change for LGBTQ people, marveled at those changes, and was a key part in those social changes happening,” Folkerth wrote.
“To see the care that he and George gave to each other, not only on every average day, but also in the quiet of a hospital room, was an inspiration to me on countless occasions.
“Please pray for George, and for all of us who were a part of his extended family.”