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Donald Edwards


1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Donald Edwards Obituary
DONALD LEE EDWARDS
July 28, 1931 - August 1, 2017
After spending the day enjoying the view of DeRuyter Lake from his front porch, Donald Lee Edwards (Don) of DeRuyter, New York passed away in the early morning hours of Tuesday, August 1, 2017.
Born in New Philadelphia, Ohio on July 28, 1931 and raised in North industry, Ohio along with his sibling, Ed Edwards (deceased) by their parents, Maxine Shaffer Edwards and Maurice (Morris) Edwards (both deceased) Don was an early achiever, wrapping up his high school career as President of the Canton South High School Senior Class of 1949. Briefly working at both Republic Steel and Troup Photographic Studios of Canton prior to enlisting in the United States Army, Don learned the value of physical labor and the thrill of using one's mind and talents as a problem solver.
Enlisting in 1951, Don was sent to Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, earning the rank of Second Lieutenant at the age of 21 in 1952; one of his first assignments was photographing the ongoing atomic test explosions in the Nevada desert. He then shipped out to serve in the Korean War and was stationed in Yokohama, Japan directing a photographic unit and developing both his technical and management skills. After serving in both the regular army and the army reserve, Don retired from the United States Army, Military intelligence, as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1991.
Upon returning to the United States, and like so many of his generation, Don took full advantage of the Gl Bill Education Benefit and completed his Bachelor Degree of Science, Cum Laude from the Syracuse University School of Speech and Dramatic Arts in 1956. Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, Don married Nancy Elva Skeele in 1954 and they quickly started raising a family (Donald Lee Edwards ll was born in Sept. 1955); living in University housing (dubiously named Fertility Flats) while both completed their respective degrees.
Realizing the potential of the relatively new medium of television, in 1956, Don started on the ground floor at WYSR TV and Radio, lugging around cans of unexposed 16mm film for the camera crew, quickly moving on to news photographer/reporter, Director of Documentaries and Public Affairs and soon, the Producer of News and Public Affairs. The 1960's and 1970's were a blur of professional accomplishments and positions (championing the Onondaga County Lake Ontario Water Diversion 196O's), Syracuse Press Club President (1965), Onondaga Community College Board of Trustees (1979)), community service (Town of Pompey Zoning Board of Appeals, Pompey Historical Society, Federated Church of New Woodstock, New Woodstock Free Library and DeRuyter American Legion) and the joys of an expanding family (Susan Beth Edwards was born in Feb. 1962) coupled with his and Nancy's "hobby" of purchasing homes (circa mid 1800's) for rebuilding and renting.
As an aside, Don enjoyed a tongue-in-cheek approach to life, especially when he borrowed Nancy's artist supplies and painted "Dry Rot Construction Company - No Job Too Rotten" on the side of his lime green pickup. To the generations of helpers that assisted Don on his various renovations, remodels and projects; the family hopes the knowledge, skills and life observations he passed along have contributed to your worlds.
Don moved into the position of General Manager for WSYR FM Radio in 1975, setting the stage for his daily Noon Balloon broadcast on the virtues, trials and tribulations of growing up in Ohio in the 1930's -1940's and introducing Mellow Yellow Rock to Central New York. Shifting his focus back to television broadcasting in 1978, Don became the Program Manager for WSYR TV and in 1984, the General Manager of the recently branded WSTM TV station.
After 30 years of growing with the station and the residents of our diverse community, Don retired from his first professional life and moved onto his next endeavor, teaching at his alma mater, Syracuse University. Joining the faculty in 1986 was both a return to his academic roots and a natural outlet for his talent to nurture and guide the newest generation of journalists. As the Department Chair of Broadcast Journalism, his curious intellect, playful banter and sharp wit combined with a knack for unexpected insights and generosity of spirit challenged his students and gave them the foundation necessary to excel across the broad spectrum of radio, television and digital media. Then, in 1996, when US News & World Report ranked the S.l. Newhouse School of Communications Radio/Television graduate as number one in the nation, Don was thrilled and extremely proud of the faculty, staff and students who had contributed to the national recognition.
1997 found Don pursuing his life-long love of woodworking, instilled by his maternal grandfather, Masby Shaffer, to a new level when he created the Don Edwards Wooden Toy Works, LLC. Cabling and restoring an 1800's thrashing barn into a woodworker's dream shop, he proceeded to build the large scale wooden dump trucks, tractors, steam rollers and boats he and Ed used to play with in their little corner of Ohio.
Don and Nancy were married on August 31 , 1 954 and, adding in a whirlwind college romance, were together for 63 delightful years. Their two children, Lee Edwards and Susan (Edwards) Gregory both reside in Breckenridge, Colo. along with Lee's wife, Debra and son, Alex, Susan's husband, John and sons, Brandon and Josh. Lee and Debra's daughter, Brianne (Edwards) Mouton and her husband, Wes and daughter, Harper live in Austin, Texas and a close member of the extended family, Matt Gorman, lives in New Market, Md. Simply known as Uncle Don to the nephews and nieces of the Skeele clan of DeRuyter, N.Y. and the Edwards clan of East Sparta, Ohio, he will be sorely missed, fondly remembered and always loved.
A private burial service will be held at the Skeele Memorial Park, Fabius Evergreen Cemetery at a later date. Please send any remembrances in his name to the "Don Edwards Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism" S.l. Newhouse School of Communications, Syracuse University, the Pompey Historical Society, the New Woodstock Federated Church, the New Woodstock Free Library or , thank you.
Smith Funeral Home, DeRuyter, has arrangements.
315-852-3393
Published in The Repository on Aug. 6, 2017
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