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Edwin Redkey

1931 - 2011 Obituary Condolences
Edwin Redkey Obituary
Edwin S. Redkey

LAGRANGEVILLE - Edwin S. Redkey, 79, died peacefully on June 10th at Saint Francis Hospital due to complications from Parkinson's Disease, surrounded by family and friends.

Born in Washington, D.C,. he earned his B.A. from the University of Washington in Seattle, a Master of Divinity Degree from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University. In his academic life, Ed was an administrator, a scholar and a teacher. He was one of the founding administrators of the College at Purchase, SUNY, serving as its first Dean of Students, later as the Dean of Humanities and a Professor in the History Department. His teaching career also included time at Yale University, Middlebury College, and the University of Tennessee.

Having specialized in American History and Race Relations, Ed helped found the field of African American Studies and made significant scholarly and popular contributions to it. One of his works, A Grand Army of Black Men, served as one of the sources for the movie "Glory," the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first black regiment in the Union Army during the Civil War. An earlier work, Black Exodus, had examined the role of Black Nationalists and the Back-to-Africa movement in the United States. His writings provided readers with a better understanding of these significant events in American history.

During the 1950s Ed served as a naval intelligence officer and a carrier-based pilot/aviator. He was honorably discharged in 1957. In 1962 his interest in other world cultures resulted in leading an Experiment in International Living group to Nigeria. Later he was a lecturer in Nigeria, Liberia, India, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. In addition, he was an avid ham Radio operator and an accomplished photographer.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy Jenks Redkey, son David H. Redkey and his wife Hyeyong Park Redkey of Belmont, CA, daughter Elizabeth Redkey and her husband Shigeru Hosoyama of Latham, NY, granddaughter Sophia Park Redkey, sisters Ann Kennedy of Port Angles, WA, Sue Redkey and her husband Dan Cushing of Gig Harbor, WA, brother William H. Redkey and his wife Soozi Redkey of Heber City, UT, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Throughout his full and rich life, his family was his greatest joy. In recent years he welcomed the birth of his first grandchild and officiated at his daughter's wedding. Family and friends will miss his subtle wit and loving heart.

In lieu of flowers, donation may be made in his memory to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, or at 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, NY 10018. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held this summer.

For memorial donations or online condolences, please visit

Published in the Poughkeepsie Journal from June 12 to June 14, 2011
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