And now, a widow.
Ed was a big teddy bear of a man, a soft-spoken African American who has lived most of his life with disability, having lost one eye to previously undetected glaucoma in basic training after he was drafted in the late 1960s. (He received a medical discharge and lifetime Veterans Administration medical care soon thereafter.) His work was primarily in a volunteer capacity, engaged in the operation of the Friends Meeting that my sister and he have been longtime members of, and as a community mediator.
He was as spiritually centered as any person I've ever known.
In my family, he was the person who took the greatest interest in, and most seriously, my love of trains and model railroading. He'd been a train buff himself as a teenager.
I remember him fondly as well for two other gifts he gave me in my youth. He explained American football to me (my father had little to no interest then in professional sports, although he watched the amateur Olympics with enthusiasm). And when my father was away on overseas study for a year and I began asking my mother and my sister about sex, Ed was drafted to explain it to me. He did so with grace, compassion, tenderness and deep respect that was worthy of the best OWL facilitator anywhere.
When my oldest son was born, it was no question who should be his godfather at his dedication, and Ed fulfilled the task in his own quiet way.
In a note to family and friends about this news, DairyStateMom said this:
I couldn't put it any better.Ed was at our wedding; those of you who celebrated with us that day might remember a big, soft-spoken African-American guy with an enveloping hug. I think a regular hug from Ed for all would go a long way toward solving the most intractable problems of human relations.
Rest in Peace, Ed.