Philip Lafayette Edwards, 89, widower of Flora McLeod Edwards, died Tuesday, July 26, 2016, at Palmetto Health Tuomey. Born October 22, 1926, in Sumter, SC, he was a son of Richard Thomas and Louise Williams Edwards.
After moving to Conway, SC in 1932 he attended public schools in Conway and graduated from Conway High School in 1944 with academic and athletic honors.
He entered Davidson College in the fall of 1944, and after one year of school, he entered the U.S. Merchant Marines Officers Training Program where he served in the Pacific and Atlantic. Upon his discharge from the Merchant Marine, he re-entered Davidson College.
Upon his graduation in 1949, he moved to Sumter going to work in the family business, Williams Furniture Corp. He served as Vice President and General Manager of Williams Furniture Corp. until its merger in 1967 with Georgia Pacific Corp. which he served as General Manager of the William Furniture Division of Georgia Pacific, until his retirement in 1983.
He also served on Southern Coatings and Chemical Co. Board of Directors, V.B. Williams Furniture Co. Board and Sumter Coatings Board as Secretary. Phil’s commitment to community and state through his involvement and philanthropy endeavors are numerous.
He and his wife established the Williams-Brice-Edwards Charitable Trust, which he served as Chairman. This charitable trust has funded all or a portion of charitable endeavors throughout Sumter County including the Recovery Wing at Swan Lake, the Williams-Brice-Edwards Administration Building at USC Sumter, and conference rooms at Tuomey Hospital and the Sumter County Library.
He served on the following: Davidson College Board of Trustees, MUSC Board of Visitors, NBSC Board of Directors 1958-1997 (Board Member Emeritus), Mid Carolina Commission for Higher Education 1995-2007 (Vice Chairman), Sumter County Museum Foundation Board and long serving Board Member and financial supporter of The Sumter County Museum, Sumter Rotary Club since 1953, serving as President in 1975-1976, Past President of the Sumter Industrial Assoc., Covenant Place Board of Trustees and past Director or Board Member of the following organizations: Sumter Family YMCA, Sumter Mental Health Assoc., Sumter Red Cross, Heritage Trust Advisory Board, Governor’s Mansion Committee, Santee Wateree Manpower Commission, Sumter United Way, Sumter Chamber of Commerce, Derthick Foundation-Sumter High School and the Pee Dee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
He has established and funded numerous scholarships at USC Sumter, Davidson College and MUSC.
Along with his brother Thomas W. Edwards as Executors of the Martha Williams Brice Estate they negotiated details of the Estate’s bequest to enlarge the football stadium at the University of South Carolina to become Williams-Brice Stadium and the Williams-Brice School of Nursing at USC, built the Williams-Brice Youth Center at Epworth Children’s Home in Columbia, Williams-Brice Youth Center at Trinity Church in Sumter, the Williams-Brice Center at Coastal Carolina University in Conway and gave the Williams-Brice home in Sumter to the Historical Society for the purpose of housing the Sumter County Museum.
His many awards include Order of the Palmetto, SC Ambassador of Economic Development, YMCA Humanitarian of the Year, Rotarian of the Year, City of Sumter-Gamecock City Society Award, Daughters of the American Revolution-Award of Excellence in Community Service, Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout, Order of the Arrow and Silver Beaver Award. He was an avid accomplished tennis player becoming a top ranked player in the state and winning the SC State Championship in both Singles and Doubles in the seniors division.
He was an active member of Trinity United Methodist Church and the Boyle Bible Class which he attended faithfully. He was also socially active in The Sumter Assembly, the Thalian Club, the Trian Club, Knock Rummy Club, Sunset Country Club and The Dunes Golf and Beach Club.
Phil is survived by three nephews, Richard T. Edwards, II of Surfside Beach, SC, Frank O. Edwards (Vicky) and extended family of Sumter, and Dr. John R. Edwards of Vermont; sisters-in-law, Florence McLeod Ervin and extended family, Mrs. James C. McLeod, Jr. and extended family both of Florence, SC and trusted friends and advisor Wilson and Lynn MacEwen of Sumter, SC.
He was preceded in death by two brothers, Thomas W. Edwards and Richard L. Edwards.
Funeral Services will be held at 11 A.M. Friday at Trinity United Methodist Church with Rev. Dr. Stephen Holler and Rev. Dr. Reginald Thackston officiating. Honorary Pallbearers will be members of the Boyle Bible Class.
The family will receive friends from 10 to 11 A.M. Friday in the Parlor at Trinity United Methodist Church. Private burial will be held at Sumter Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Sumter County Museum, 122 N. Washington St., Sumter, SC 29150 or Trinity United Methodist Church, 226 W. Liberty St., Sumter, SC 29150.
On-line condolences may be sent to www.sumterfunerals.comElmore Hill McCreight Funeral Home & Crematory, 221 Broad Street, Sumter, is in charge of the arrangements (803) 775-9386.
Published in The State on July 27, 2016