updated 02/26/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/26/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST
For Evans, born Frances Octavia Smith in Uvalde, Texas, and a radio singer and B-movie bit player before teaming with Rogers in 1944's The Cowboy and the Senorita, the happy trails they blazed together were marred by personal tragedy. Of their nine children—three of whom were adopted—Robin died before age 2 of heart problems, and Debbie, 12, and Sandy, 18, suffered fatal accidents. Evans, who wrote the gospel standard "The Bible Tells Me So," found strength through Christian evangelism. Still, "she took Roy's death really hard for the first year," says Dave Koch, who is married to Evans's granddaughter Shawna. "She never did stop missing him but probably came to accept that she would be with him soon."