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H. Joseph Edwards

EDWARDS, H. JOSEPH "JOE" January 14, 1931-September 14, 2013. Joe Edwards, aged 82, a retired, business consultant specializing in economic development, passed away peacefully at his home in Martinsburg, WV on September 14, 2013. Joe was born in Washington, D. C. and attended Hyattsville High School in Prince Georges County, where he graduated as president of his class. He served four years in the U. S. Navy and studied law and business at the Armed Forces Institute. He also attended the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore. In 1955, he joined the Maryland State Police and would later found the Maryland State Police Alumni Association and serve as its president. He also founded and served as the chair of the Martin M. Puncke Scholarship Foundation. Puncke was a life-long friend, met while serving with Joe on the State Police. Joe left the State Police in 1960 and became the District Manager for the Nationwide Insurance Company. He wrote, produced, and directed radio and television programming while at Nationwide, including "The Silent Passenger" radio program, for which he received the Alfred P. Sloan award. Throughout his career he authored numerous articles, manuals, and studies related to tourism, economic development, and business. From 1971 to 1983, he served as the chief executive officer of the Laurel Area Chamber of Commerce, Laurel, MD. In 1976, Joe was instrumental in creating the first Visitor Information Centers in Maryland as a joint venture between the state and the private sector. In 1978, he helped establish the Baltimore-Washington International Development Council and would serve as its executive director until 2007. He was also one of the creators of Maryland's first Private Industry Council, a founder of the Prince George's County Travel Promotion Council as well as the county's Economic Development Corporation. In 1986, the corporation was named the number one economic development program in the country by the All American Cities Association. Joe has held numerous leadership positions with a wide variety of community and business associations, including: Western Maryland Safety Council (president), Parkway Hospital Center (chairman of the board), Southern Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (board member), Southern Industrial Development Council, American Chamber of Commerce Executives, Youth Leadership Bowie, the American Cancer Society-Prince George's County (president), and the Maryland Association of Chamber Executives (president). He has received numerous community service awards, being honored by the Red Cross, United Way, the American Cancer Society, and Boy Scouts of America, among others. In 1986, Joe established HJE Associates to provide professional services to landowners, businesses, and developers, employing an innovative and progressive approach to development through public-private partnerships. He has helped to create economic development programs in more than 30 jurisdictions. Joe has been nationally recognized as an advocate of business. In 2004, the Maryland Economic Development Association presented him with its coveted Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2005 the Baltimore/ Washington Corridor Chamber Foundation honored him for his commitment to education. In 2006, Joe and his wife Anita moved to Martinsburg, WV. While in Martinsburg, he was a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Martinsburg and Berkeley County, the Rotary Club of Martinsburg, and the Berkeley County Development Authority. He also served on the Hospice of the Panhandle Capital Campaign and the United Way Allocations Committee. He is survived by his wife of nearly 59 years, Anita C. Edwards; daughters Joanne Wadsworth and husband Dave, Carolyn Ley and husband Neal, and Elaine Unnone and husband Victor; six grandchildren, Robert "RB," Stephen, and Michael Seem, Victor III and Emily Unnone, and Alexander Ley. He is also survived by one sister, Millie Jordan of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and numerous nieces and nephews. A memorial mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 21, 2013, at St. Leo's Catholic Church with Fr. Deyre Azcuna, celebrant, located in Inwood, WV. A celebration of life service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, September 21, at the Purple Iris, 1956 Winchester Ave., Martinsburg, WV 25405, with Chaplain Doug Knapp officiating. Interment prayers will be held at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Brentwood, Maryland on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 11:30 a.m., with military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice of the Panhandle "Building the Dream " Fund, 122 Waverly Court, Martinsburg, WV 25403 or to BWCC Foundation, designated for the H. Joseph Edwards Scholarship, 312 Marshall Avenue, Laurel, MD 20707. On-line condolences may be shared at www.BrownFuneralHomesWV.com
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Published in the Bowie Blade-News on Sept. 19, 2013
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