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John Richard Edwards

Nov 24, 1931 - Apr 16, 2017
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John Richard Edwards, 85, was called home on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 after several months of declining health. He was born on November 24, 1931 in Baltimore, Maryland, the 5th child of Robert J. Edwards, a career Baltimore Policeman, and Anna (Godesky) Edwards. John attended Ascension Catholic School in Baltimore until the 8th grade. Due to his father’s ill health, the family was advised to move to a warm, dry climate, which took them to El Centro, California in the 1940’s. His father passed away shortly after their arrival to California. John attended Central Senior High School in El Centro, California graduating in 1950 where he excelled playing football and was nick-named “The bone-crusher.” With his father deceased, John developed a strong work ethic that lasted throughout his life. He was granted a drivers license at 14, so he could work at the family’s cab company. During summers, he hitch-hiked across the country to work for his older brother in Baltimore to earn money for school, then hitch-hiked back to California in time for the start of school.

John graduated from San Jose State University in 1955 where he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. During this time, he married his high school sweetheart, Jeri Ann Coffman. Upon graduation, he joined Safeway Stores Produce Buying Department in Wenatchee, Washington. After several transfers to California, he joined a national buying group called “Topco Association” which brought the family to Yakima in 1958. For the next 13 years, John was instrumental in opening offices for Topco throughout California, Arizona, and Idaho. The family returned to Yakima in 1963 with three children and another on the way. Knowing the family wanted to put down roots in Yakima, in 1971 John started Edwards Fruit Sales and Marketing, buying fresh produce and fruit for chain stores throughout the country for the next 25 years. After retiring in 1996, John and Jeri moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where John spent every day on the golf-course and every evening at one of Vegas’ countless buffets. John and Jeri were always the consummate hosts, opening their home to friends from around the country. Eventually, John and Jeri moved to Hemet, California and spent summers in Yakima enjoying their children and grandchildren.

John was a past member of the Knights of Columbus, BPOE, Yakima Tennis Club, Yakima Country Club, S.W. Rotary and Sundusters. He was a past president of S.W. Rotary and Big Chief of Sundusters. John was given the “Chamber of Commerce Award” in 1989 and was selected “Person of the Year” that same year for his entrepreneurial efforts of revitalizing downtown Yakima with “Track 29.” John’s passion for trains developed from his early years growing up in Baltimore watching the Baltimore and Ohio R.R pass by. Where most boys grew up playing with train sets, John thought on a larger scale. He wanted to take advantage of Yakima’s history with the railroad and envisioned a “real” train set located alongside Yakima’s historic train depot. He set out scouring the country to find his perfect train and did so in Alaska. He then had it moved 2,200 miles to Yakima and built his replica village at “Track 29.” John prefaced in life the quote, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” At the end of his life, he commented that he had accomplished everything he wanted to do. His bucket list was empty. His was a life well spent.

John is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jeri Edwards, children: Debra Speer (Tim) and John Edwards Jr. of Yakima, Scott Edwards (Michelle) of Santa Rosa, CA., and Dawn Brush (Jim) of Walla Walla, WA., grandchildren: Erin, Amy, and Timothy Speer, and Lauren Svendsen, and brother, Tom Edwards (Carol) of Scottsdale, AZ. He is preceded in death by an infant son, Robert Joseph, his parents, Robert J. Edwards and Anna Edwards, brothers: Robert Edwards Jr., Bill Edwards, and sisters: Margaret Pownder and Katherine Hopkins.

A Celebration of Life will be held for John on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 10:00am at St. Paul Cathedral with a reception to follow. John wished that any donations be made to the Children’s Village c/o Brookside Funeral Home, PO Box 1267, Moxee, WA 98936. The family would like to thank the staff at Cottage in the Meadow, Memorial Hospice and our most wonderful care giver, Blanca. 


Funeral Information

Funeral service

Apr 26, 2017:10:00 a.m.

St. Paul Cathedral

15 S 12th Ave., Yakima