Ralph N. Edwards, 95, of Tifton died Friday, January 18, 2013, at Tift Regional Medical Center. Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 20, 2013, in the Chapel of Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals. Dr. W. Ches Smith III will officiate with family members and friends giving eulogies. Durell Hawkins, Richard Forstot, Michael Shashoua, Sean McNeal, Matt Clickner, Alan Hawkins and Neal Hawkins will serve as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Tifton Rotary Club. The family will receive friends on Saturday, January 19, 2013, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.
Mr. Edwards was born on August 12, 1917 in Salisbury, North Carolina and was the son of George Victor Edwards and Yetta Cohen Edwards, both deceased. He was the youngest of five children from Greensboro, North Carolina and was also preceded in death by his four siblings, Al Edwards, Joe Edwards, Harry Edwards and Jenny Edwards Blum.
Ralph’s educational background includes Ben Franklin University and the University of Hawaii and he graduated from Georgetown University near Washington, D.C. He was recruited by the FBI in the 1940s and served seven years in the Pacific on Confidential Counter Intelligence during World War II. He worked for six years in the retail business before moving to Tifton in the 1950s following the purchase of WWGS. His broadcasting career began in 1935, when he was only 17 years old, with his brothers at Edwards Silvertone Sound Advertiser. In 1975, the Edwards’ put their FM facility, WCUP, on the air. After selling his broadcast facilities, he owned Tifton’s Apple Computer Center, the Edwards Datasystems, Inc. He was a member of the Fitzgerald Hebrew Congregation.
Always active in civic and community affairs, Ralph was past president of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters and the Georgia State Associate Press Association. He was a Shriner and a past president of the Tift County Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed State Chairman of the Small Business Advisory Council in the 1970s and received the first honorary membership from the Jaycees. He also served on the Executive Board of the Chehaw Council for the Boy Scouts. He was a long-time, active member of the Tifton Rotary Club.
In the 1980s, he was inducted into the ABAC President’s Club and appointed to the presidential search committee for the college and was a charter member in the Tifton Tourism Association. He won the Georgia Farm Bureau Sharecropper Award for 15 years of service to farmers and was only the second given in the state of Georgia.
In politics, Mr. Edwards served on the Democratic Executive Committees for the Second District of Georgia at the request of Congressman J.L. Pilcher of Meigs and later Congressman Maston O’Neal of Bainbridge. One of Mr. Edwards’ pet projects in the early 1960s was obtaining a new post office for Tifton and he was congratulated by President John F. Kennedy for his efforts. In his spare time, Ralph’s hobbies included amateur “ham” radio, model trains and computers. Travel, synagogue and family rounded out Mr. Edwards’ busy life.
Mr. Edwards is survived by his wife of 67 years, Evelyn Kruger Edwards of Tifton. In a Tifton Gazette “Rave of the Day”, Ralph and Evelyn were given a rave for being sweethearts for close to 70 years. They were admired for their devotion to each other and to Tifton. He is also survived by two daughters and sons-in-law, Roslyn and Richard Forstot of Lawrenceville and Gale and Durell Hawkins of Snellville; five grandchildren, Alan Hawkins, Neal Hawkins, Abby Shashoua, Lisa McNeal and Jody Clickner; four great-grandchildren, Elizabeth Hawkins, Troy Hawkins, Anna Kate McNeal and Blake McNeal; and a great-grandchild on the way.