Jack Edwards was known for many accomplishments during his life as a U.S. Marine, a 20-year congressional representative for Alabama’s District 1 and a champion of conservation causes.
Perhaps his last public recognition during a long life of service was in May, during the dedication of land added to the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge with $10.3 million in Restore Act money. Edwards was on hand for the celebration on the refuge. The Conservation Fund led the effort to add the 470 acres, which will now be part of the 7,200-acre refuge and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“This conservation project has been a very long-term effort,” the Conservation Fund Regional Director Ray Herndon said at a ceremony in May. “It was initiated back in 1980 by former congressman Jack Edwards, who actually created this refuge along with many others. That vision continues to unfold today.”
Edwards’ other environmental efforts including serving as the long-time chairman of the Weeks Bay Foundation and helping establish the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Reserve. He died on Sept. 27 at the age of 91.
In Congress, he was considered an expert on national defense and served on the important Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee and worked during the Reagan administration to help the president rebuild the U.S. military.
“Congressman Jack Edwards served his state and nation with the highest degree of integrity,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “He was President Reagan’s point man on rebuilding our national defense. As a young Marine, he proudly wore the uniform of his country during the Korean War; as the representative from Alabama’s First Congressional District, he was elected to 10 terms and was widely respected on both sides of the aisle, working with six different presidents.”
Upon his retirement in 1985, Edwards, a graduate of the University of Alabama with undergrad and law degrees, served on the University of Alabama System board of trustees from 1988 to 1999. He also served on the Washington Airport Authority, practiced law at Hand Arendall in Mobile, served on several corporate boards and was named the Mobilian of the Year in 1987. The Gulf Shores airport also bears his name.
According to a release from his family after his death, Edwards was not happy with the turn political discourse has taken in the nation in recent years.
“My hope is that my great-grandchildren will grow up in a country where civility will have been returned to common discourse and to the efforts to solve the country’s problems,” Edwards said in the release. “My hope is that they will understand that the real answers are found through compromise and cooperation, and not at the extreme edges of human thought.”
Officials from around the state including current District 1 Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, and U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, expressed condolences for the family. Ivey ordered flags to be flown at half staff the State Capital complex and throughout Congressional District 1.
Services for Edwards are scheduled for 2:30 p.m., Oct. 2 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Fairhope. The family requested any memorials be made to the church, the Weeks Bay Foundation or the Eastern Shore Art Center.
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