My dad, Billy Ray Edwards, is spending his first Father’s Day in Heaven. Initially he was recovering from his stroke in April very well. He was determined and making progress, but complications from diabetes, dehydration, and eventually pneumonia weakened his frail body to the point where quality of life was dwindling and Jesus was calling him Home at 79 years old. We are so grateful for the assurance of Where he is and the knowledge of who he was.
Billy Ray Edwards was born on March 28th, 1940 to Floyd “Buddy” and Merle Edwards and raised in North Carolina with his 2 younger sisters Barbara Fay and Wanda Gay. 😆 #ItsASouthernThang He loved playing baseball (like his grandkids), held a variety of jobs since he was 8 years of age, became the first person in his family to attend college, and ended up as an Air Traffic Controller with the Federal Aviation Association for 30 years. He was bright, motivated, witty, and faithful to my mom Stanlea“Stannie” for almost 47 years of marriage (on July 17th). They met in San Diego, married and moved to San Mateo (where I was born) and then relocated 10 months later to Las Vegas where my brother Jeff arrived and we both grew up.
Mom and Dad lived in Vegas and were part of their church community, Trinity Life Center, for 30 years until moving to Tucson, Arizona in 2005 to be near his sisters and their families. My folks have so enjoyed their Arizona friends and supportive church community, Oro Valley Church of The Nazarene.
“Papa Billy” was more of an introvert, but his wide breadth of knowledge from reading and watching the news everyday caused him to find something in common with almost everyone he met. His humor was razor sharp, sometimes inappropriate 😳😂, and I’m pretty sure he made my mom laugh almost everyday. He weathered trials and chronic illness without complaint and with an increasing trust in Jesus. Despite growing up fairly poor, he was a generous person who tithed faithfully even through a turbulent job transition. And though providing for his family was his primary way of expressing his love for us, over the years his heart grew more tender and he shared his love more freely.
A big part of that growth came in 1994 when he was almost killed by a drunk driver – who he later forgave. He had plenty of time in a hospital bed to contemplate life and the first thing I remember him saying to me after they removed the tube down his throat was, “I want you to know that I pray for you, your mom and your brother everyday.” This transformation later inspired me to research and write my Master’s thesis on the effects of intimacy and connection in father-daughter communication, which I defended on Father’s Day weekend in 1998 with tears streaming down his face in the back of the room. My mom and I recently agreed that the last 25 years with him felt like a bonus.
The last time I saw him was on May 27th, my 45th birthday, and the final thing he said to me was, “I love you to pieces!” 😭❤️ He strolled into heaven on June 5th after so much sweet time with and care from my mom, my brother and my aunt.
Our family’s purpose in moving to Tucson in July will shift to supporting my mom in this new season as a widow, spending more time with Jeff, his sweet wife Ebony, and cute cousin Ezra (who live in Phoenix), and keeping dad’s memory alive for his 5 grandchildren with inspiring, funny, and sometimes inappropriate stories. 😜🥰 We love you and we will miss you, Papa Billy!
Thanks so much for your prayers, support, love and kind words about my dad. 💚 (We will announce a date for a Celebration of Life service after we get settled in Tucson.)
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
** In lieu of flowers, we request that you honor his legacy by donating on behalf of Billy Edwards to WORLD News Group. Dad was a knowledgeable & opinionated news hound and WNG is a non-profit news organization whose mission is to inform, educate, and inspire by bringing an intelligent, considerate and discerning Christian perspective to the larger conversation of our day. www.world.wng.org