Remembering My Dad

My dad passed away in January 2002. He was a wonderful, kind and gentle man. What follows is the eulogy that I shared at his funeral in Red Banks, Mississippi. I was greatly moved today as I read it and remembered my dad. I pray that this will bless you on this Father's Day.

Good morning. I am blessed today to have this opportunity to tell you about my Dad. I will be reading from my notes ... I hope that I haven’t left too much out ... please accept my apologies, in advance, if I forget to mention anything.

I’ll start by introducing to you Dad’s brother, Fred Lee Edwards ... good morning Uncle Fred Lee. I would also like to introduce you to my Dad’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who are here today ...

Lawrence’s children ...
· My brother, Bill Edwards, from Manalapan, NJ
· My sister, Eydie DeLuca, from Lakewood, NJ
· I am Bob Edwards from Lenexa, KS and
· My sister, Nancy Zylstra, from Jackson, NJ

Lawrence’s grandchildren ...
· Steven Cady and his wife Gina from Manahawkin, NJ and
· Lynn Dowlin from Little Egg Harbor, NJ

Lawrence’s great grandson ...
· Nicholas Cady from Manahawkin

We welcome you and thank you for being with us today as we celebrate the life of our Dad, Lawrence Jefferson Edwards.

Our Dad was born on September 30th, 1914 to Willie and Myrtle Edwards. Dad spent his childhood years growing up on the family farm in Red Banks with his sisters Catherine and Irene and his brother Fred Lee. Dad had wonderful memories of growing up. He loved to hunt and fish and loved to tell his kids about his times growing up in Mississippi.

In 1931 Dad left home to join the Civilian Conservation Corps ... then in 1932 he joined the US Army where was stationed in Georgia, California, Hawaii and New York. Over a seven year period in the army Dad learned two skills hat he would use all of his life. He began his tour of duty as a cook ... he mastered cooking so much that he was given the duty of preparing meals for high ranking officers when he was stationed in Hawaii. Dad was at home in the kitchen ... whether cooking for six or sixty ... growing up I have many memories of my Dad in the kitchen. He regularly prepared Sunday meals and our holiday feasts ... his Thanksgiving turkeys were very special ... I can still see him bent over the oven basting the turkey. Dad used his cooking skills at Amvets’ dinners, Elks’ parties and, of course, in these last fifteen years, at the annual reunion at Tony and Pearl Kelly’s house. He was an amazing chef ... I know that I will never forget this part of his life.

Well, back to the Army. The second skill that Dad acquired while serving our country was that of a diesel mechanic. He was trained to repair tanks and he soon became very proficient at it. My Dad was a very intelligent person ... he had the ability too to quickly grasp the complicated concepts of diesel engines. Around our house he had the reputation of being able to fix anything that was broken ... especially car engines. Dad was a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers. In 1939, while stationed at Miller Field on Staten Island, New York, Dad met Catherine Roe. After a period of courtship dad married Catherine the following year and left the Army.

In 1941 Dad and Mom had their first child, my brother Bill. The following year my sister Eydie was born and their young family began to take root on Staten Island. An interesting note from this time - after the US entered World War II my Dad’s old army battalion was sent to North Africa where most of them died in combat ... because he had children my Dad was not required to return to military service and escaped the fate of his comrades.

Well, several years past and in 1949 a second son was born to our family - Me. The following year my sister Nancy was born and we were now a family of six. During these years Dad worked on the New York harbor fixing diesel engines on tug boats and barges. He would often have to work extra jobs fixing cars to keep our family going. My brothers and sisters and I could tell you many stories from our childhood ... you can ask us later ... you might want to talk to Bill about car repair stories.

Well, lets fast forward thirty years ... there is a lot in between ... the kids grew up, got married and had kids ... there are now ten grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

In 1976 Dad fell at a job site and seriously injured his back. He was forced to retire early. By this time Dad and Mom had moved to New Jersey. He spent the ensuing years healing and fishing. He bought a boat and spent a lot of time tuning his inboard engine and heading out on the ocean fishing. As the years went by Mom and Dad drifted apart and were divorced in 1983.

That year Dad surprised all of us by moving back to his childhood home in Mississippi. He bought a home next to Fred Lee and Minnie and spent most of his time working on it and fixing it up. My family and I drove down from Kansas that first Thanksgiving and spent the first of many holidays with my Dad. Those first several trips were wonderful times for me meeting all of my Mississippi family. Over the years I noticed a change in my Dad ... he seemed to be at peace with life ... it was a wonderful thing to see. I came to understand that this peace had its source in God. I remember one phone call in particular when my Dad spoke to me of loving the Lord ... I was so happy for him ... I got choked up talking to him.

In 1986 my Dad married Nettie Gardner. I remember that day so well ... in their front yard Dad and Nettie exchanged vows ... I had the honor of being his best man. I was so happy for my Dad. These last fifteen years have been happy ones for Dad and Nettie. They both shared a love for God, a love for each other, a love for gardening ... and a love for spending time with their families.

I already miss my Dad. I want to end my talk by sharing a few thoughts with you about him. When I think about my Dad I will always think of kindness, friendship, acceptance and love. My Dad was the kindest man that I have ever known ... I have spent most of my adult growing to appreciate this godly attribute. When I think of my Dad I will always remember him as a friendly, outgoing man ... when I was growing up it seemed that Dad knew everyone in town. He was a true friend ... I so admired the way that he loved people ... he taught me by his actions to be accepting of people who were different. I will always remember how hard my Dad worked ... he set a standard of hard work that I aspire to.

But most of all I will never forget how much he believed in me, growing up I had a sense that I could do anything and be anyone that I wanted to be. All of his life my Dad took great pride in his children ... no matter what we did in life ... our Dad expressed much joy in our accomplishments ... he was blind to our faults, quick to forgive and so loving towards us. Oh, how I want to be like him.

From our family to yours - please accept our thanks and blessings. Because of your love and concern for our Dad we have worried a little less for our Dad, especially in this last year ... we are grateful to all of you. May God bless you.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your dad with us, KB. Heaven got a little more heavenly when he joined up!

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  2. What a priviledge to have delivered a eulogy like that. I know what an adjustment it is to go forward after losing a father. I'm glad you knew your dad and loved him like you did.

    This is my 3rd father's day without my dad here, and although I miss him, the joy I have is in knowing I will see him again.

    Thanks for sharing that story, KB - and Happy Father's day to you.

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  3. OK... I got misty-eyed, which is good. Though our stories and dads are different (we never lived in NY and my dad wouldn't know a spark plug from a piston) we have similarities. Both our parents divorced after many years of marriage and we both love our dads.

    I got to eat lunch with mine yesterday and it was so nice.

    GREAT tribute to your dad.

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  4. Thank you--and I have no doubt that your children share your sentiment--

    "Oh, how I want to be like him."

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  5. Your dad sounds like a wondeful man Bob. No one can replace our parents. I miss mine greatly. Thanks for sharing your dad with us.

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