Ned Evans ’64, who pledged a $50 million gift to the Yale School of Management over the winter recess, died of acute myeloid leukemia Dec. 31 —less than two weeks after making the largest gift in the school’s 35-year history.

Yale sought a donor to name the school’s new campus since at least September, when SOM Dean Sharon Oster said Yale was asking about $100 million for naming rights. In honor of Evans’ Dec. 20 gift, the new SOM building will be named Edward P. Evans Hall.

Evans, who was 68, was a private investor and former CEO of the publishing house Macmillan. The gift was part of Evans’ plans for his estate, University President Richard Levin said in a Sunday interview.

“[Evans] was very ill and in decline when he decided to make the contribution,” Levin said. “He was making a gift while he still had time to do so.”

Evans’ gift and a $10 million donation from Wilbur L. Ross ’59 announced in early November make it possible for the University to continue construction without borrowing funds, University President Richard Levin said in a Dec. 20 e-mail. In September, Oster told the News that SOM might need to borrow as much as $65 million to finance the new campus.

Evans had myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a form of bone marrow failure disease, said Catherine Moraetis, Evans’ personal secretary. Individuals diagnosed with MDS are at significant risk for acute myeloid leukemia. Moraetis said Evans’ MDS was “very aggressive” and advanced to acute myeloid leukemia, but declined to say when Evans was diagnosed with either disease.

Moraetis described Evans as a “very private man” and said he was stoic throughout his illness. Even before his diagnosis, Evans started to plan his estate, she said, adding that he never married and had no children.

Toward the end of his career, Evans was widely known as a successful owner and breeder of thoroughbred racing horses, but Moraetis described him as a “quintessential businessman.” In deciding how to direct his gift to Yale, she said, SOM was a “natural fit” for Evans’ donation.

“It was something that he had been working on and the diagnosis if anything just accelerated his decision-making,” Moraetis said.

Although Evans is not an alumnus of SOM, Yale Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said in a Dec. 20 e-mail that alumni donors often give to areas of the University beyond their student affiliations. At the time, Reichenbach said Evans’ donation had prompted other potential donors to consider giving to SOM.In an interview with the News Sunday, Reichenbach said the University would have hoped to “thank [Evans] with a celebration” and allow him to see his name on the finished building. Despite this, Moraetis said the timing was right for Evans’ donation, adding that he received several letters expressing gratitude from members of the Yale community before he died.

The 4.25 acre campus, which was designed by the architectural firm Foster + Partners, will be located on Whitney Avenue. It is planned to open in the fall of 2013.