Rep. Edwards, former congressman dies

Published 6:03 pm Saturday, October 5, 2019

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Retired 10-term Alabama Congressman and civic leader, Rep. Jack Edwards of Fairhope, who turned 91 on Sept. 20, died early Sept. 27, from complications from pancreatic cancer, his family announced.


Edwards had a distinguished career both in and out of Congress. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1965 as one of five Republicans who were a part of Alabama’s “Goldwater landslide” sweep of the South.

He served as vice chairman of the House Republican leadership, which placed him at the White House each week for meetings with the president. With seniority, he was the point member on defense appropriations and also served on the Transportation Subcommittee of House Appropriations, which allowed him to oversee funding for the rebuilding of the Dauphin Island Bridge after Hurricane Frederick and many other infrastructure projects.

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Each week, Edwards kept in touch with his First District through hosting a 30-minute Gulf Coast tri-state television “Congressional Report,” aired on WKRG-TV in Mobile. He shared the hosting duties with former Rep. Trent Lott, R-MS, and both Bob Sikes, D-FL, followed by Sikes’ successor, Earl Hutto, D-FL.

When asked recently what kind of world he would like to leave his great grandchildren, he said, “My hope is that my great grandchildren will grow up in a country where civility will have been returned to common discourse and to the efforts to solve the country’s problems. My hope is they will be a part of a process of coming together rather than pulling apart. My hope is that they will understand that the real answers are found through compromise and cooperation and not at the extreme edges of human thought.

“That is my hope for the future,” he said. “This is my hope for the great grandchildren, for the country and all who exist in it, that we will come back to a time of civility in peace in working together for the good of mankind.”

Born in Birmingham, Edwards served in the U.S. Marine Corps and earned both his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Alabama. He was president of the Student Government Association and Kappa Alpha fraternity and in later years, served several years on the University’s Board of Trustees, holding the office of president pro tem at the time of his retirement from the board.

Retiring from Congress in 1985, he joined the Hand Arendall law firm in Mobile and continued to perform public service in Alabama and the nation. He was president of many organizations and was named Mobilian of the Year in 1987. He also served on the Washington Airport Authority and on the corporate boards for Northrup-Grumman, QMS Inc. and the Southern Company.

Edwards is survived by his wife, Jolane Vander Sys Edwards of Fairhope and Mobile; a daughter, Lane Edwards Weavil (Richard) of Mobile; a son, Richard Arnold Edwards (Robert) of Tacoma, Wash.; grandchildren, Garland Aldrich Weavil Sanders (Michael), and Robert Cameron Weavil, both of Mobile; and great-grandchildren, Anne Hastings Weavil, Elizabeth Lane Sanders and Michael Donaghey Sanders III, all of


Funeral services are to be announced. Memorials may be made to Trinity Presbyterian Church, Fairhope; the Weeks Bay Foundation, Fairhope; or the Eastern Shore Art Center, Fairhope. Wolfe Bayview Funeral Home in Fairhope is in charge of arrangements.

For further information, contact Clay Swanzy, former Edwards’ press secretary, at, 251 928-8430 or 251 979-6937.