Henry Edwards, former Live Oak mayor, dies at 86
Henry Edwards, former Live Oak mayor and a political stalwart for the better part of two decades, died Sept. 25. He was 86.
Visitation will be from 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 at Colonial Funeral Home, 625 Kitty Hawk Road in Universal City. Graveside service will begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, 1520 Harry Wurzbach Road in San Antonio.
Edwards was first elected to Live Oak City Council in May 1995. In 1996, he was selected as a charter member of the city’s Economic Development Corp. and served as its vice president. He was re-elected to the council in 1997 and 1999, and was elected mayor in 2000. He was re-elected three times, serving until 2008.
Under his leadership, the city established a homestead exemption of 10 percent of appraised home value, which was increased to 20 percent in 2003. The city’s over-65 senior exemption was increased to $40,000 in May 2004. And in 2005, 73 percent of city voters approved Proposition 1 (a tax freeze for seniors and the disabled). From 2001-2008, the city’s tax rate was reduced in seven of the eight years.
Live Oak Mayor Mary Dennis ran for the office in 2010 against Edwards, who had been defeated two years earlier but re-emerged as a candidate. Their race ended in a tie on election day and went to a runoff in June, with Dennis emerging victorious.
“I have to say, in the end, he did say, ‘Mary, I want to tell you you’re doing a great job and I appreciate what you’re doing,’” Dennis said, as the two put any political animosity behind them. “He did a lot of good things for the city, there’s no doubt about that.”
Edwards died the same day he was to be honored by City Council with a proclamation praising him for his contributions and dedication to Live Oak and its residents.
Longtime family friend Suzanne Hildebrand shared some thoughts about Edwards.
“He was a devoted father to his sons and a devoted husband to Agnes. He was also a devoted friend,” said Hildebrand, whose late husband, Ray, was a close friend of Edwards. “Before he became so fragile, he would to the pharmacy for friends to pick up their prescriptions; he would buy their groceries; he would transport them to and from the airport when they were traveling.”
She spoke to one of his penchants and pastimes - crunching numbers and budgets.
“Of course, Henry was a brilliant mathematician so the numbers were important to him and easily remembered,” she said. “There was never a mayor who was more dedicated to the city and the wellbeing of its employees and its citizens. That love and devotion to the city lasted until the very end.”
He was born Henry O. Edwards Jr. on Sept. 10, 1932, in Wilmington, N.C. He enlisted in the Air Force Sept. 3, 1952, and served on continuous active duty until his retirement on Oct. 1, 1985. During his career he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal with one cluster and an Air Force Commendation Medal with three clusters. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Omaha in 1967.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Agnes J. Edwards; a brother, Rutherford Lee Edwards; and a sister, Christine DeBarge.
Edwards is survived by two sons, Henry O. Edwards III and Jimmy Lee Edwards, one grandson and one great-granddaughter.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Air Force Aid Society, which provides airmen and their families worldwide with temporary financial assistance, education assistance and an array of base-level community enhancement programs.