Author Barbara Schultz Evans has released her second book '13+2' and will be signing copies from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12 at Chapters Book Store in Miami.
MIAMI – Author, Barbara Schultz Evans, of Chetopa, Kansas has penned her second book, 'Lucky 13 +2,' the continued saga of her family of 13 siblings.
In her books, Evans tells of her experiences of being born in 1948 and raised the fourth of 13 children in the Schultz family. Each member vividly becomes a memorable and colorful character in her first book, 'Lucky 13.' Evans honestly tells of the challenges, struggles, and strengths of growing up in a small town, rural America.
In her second book, Evans has included a second volume of intriguing stories about her siblings and herself that pull the reader into her humorous and inspiring observations of her childhood and growing up years. Many of those mentioned in her new book are local characters many will recognize.
A book signing and opportunity to meet Evans is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 12 at Chapters Book Store at 31 North Main in Miami.
In 'Lucky 13+ 2' Evans has also chronicled stories of her two cousins, Mike Furnas and the late Doug Furnas. The Furnas brothers of Commerce are both well known for their athletic skills and accomplishments at world-level proficiency in a wide variety of sports, including football, powerlifting, and wrestling.
“There was just too much information to put in one book,” Evans said. “I just had to separate it. Doug and Mike’s story has never really been told. Doug's exploits deserve respect.”
She interviewed Mike Furnas for the book, and he gives first-hand accounts of his own childhood, high school, college and professional years and his relationship with his brother. She says Mike agreed to help her with the book more for a recording of Doug's legacy than to tell his own story.
“It was hard for him to go back into that life that they lived in, but he did it for Doug,” Evans said. “My family didn't even know all the exploits those boys did, and it's all recorded. It started out just for our family, and I've gone into a place most couldn't. I'm just very humbled to think Mike would allow me and trust me to tell their story. We worked for months together, and it was bittersweet for both of us.”
Evans writes fondly of their father, her uncle Wayne Furnas, her mother's brother, and of the Furnas brothers.
The book is sprinkled throughout with photos of the Schultz family and Furnas brothers illustrating the rich tales told in Evans' positive and spirited writing style.
Mike tells the author of his own raising as one of five Furnas children with Doug and their three sisters. From childhood he describes an active competitive lifestyle starting with junior rodeos, working draft horses and pulling matches that fostered a non-stop competitive drive in the Furnas children early on.
A 1976 head-on car crash near Quapaw left his parents, sister and Doug seriously injured. Doug came close to dying in the accident and suffered a concussion, broken leg and arm and exploded spleen and other internal injuries. He fought back to recover and discovered resistance training during his year-long rehabilitation.
Dennis Wright, a world champion power lifter from Miami, became the brothers' mentor and hero, who helped train the young men, according to Mike Furnas.
The Furnas brothers achieved numerous high school and college football honors at Commerce High School and NEO. Both later played football for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1981 and 1982. Doug played all 22 regular season games.
The Furnas brothers competed in power lifting, and both won national championships in the Collegiate National Power Lifting meet, and Doug went on to set 29 world records in the sport.
Mike was recruited and played and coached football for the 'Milan Rhinos' in Italy beginning in 1984 and went onto win the Italian Super Bowl as part of the team.
In 1993 the Furnas brothers became professional wrestlers in Japan, wrestling into their 30s and making a mark in the wrestling world.
“My brother's burning desire was to focus on whatever we were doing, be it bull riding, playing football, weightlifting or wrestling,” Mike tells in Evans' book. “ ...I would like for anyone who reads this to understand Doug on a microscopic level because of the way he lived and tried to achieve as much as he could in a short amount of time. The message I got from him is how precious each day is, and it is not cliché.”
Doug was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2003 and died in 2011 after another remarkable show of strength and many triumphs in his battle with the disease.
The last page of Evans' book has a photo of Doug Furnas with arms outstretched and a poem by Edgar Albert Guest titled 'Looking Backward.'
“It was just perfect,” Evans said. “The poem describes all the the things we could have had, but what we ended up with instead was many blessings, especially Doug, in our lives.”
Family stories are shared throughout each chapter of Evans' book that connects the reader with detailed inspirational, serious and humorous stories about life and her relationships as part of her large family.
“During our years growing up, we were unable to imagine how it would all turn out for each of us, but thankfully we are blessed with the opportunity to reflect and appreciate the value in our upbringing,” Evans writes. “God has given us individually the wonderful gift of introspection; as well as, a broader understanding of this mosaic called 'family.'”
Evans' new book will be available for purchase during the book signing at Chapters, or by messaging Evans on Facebook at ‘Lucky 13 by Barbara Schultz Evans’ or on her website at http://lucky13saga.wix.com/lucky13saga.
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.