I’ve been trying to write this story for a long time. This story is about the beginning of my life up until now. The name of this story is “From Then to Now”.
It begins with my name, Earl G. Edwards, Sr. Born May 1, 1936 in Memphis, Tennessee.
There were 14 people in my family. My parents, the late Reuben Alexander Edwards (Ray) and Lucille Edwards and 12 brothers and sisters.
My brothers names are Willie Roy, Reuben Ray, Ernest Lee, Chars Eugene, George Lucious And Ronald Lewis. My sisters names are Annie Mae, Thelma Louise, Era Lavern, Brenda Elizabeth, and Sheridan Maxine. My brothers and sisters, we loved each other so much it seemed like we were all one person, we would do anything for each other.
Five preceded me in death; Willie Roy Edwards, Rueben Ray Edwards, Annie Mae Bell, Ernest Lee Edwards, and Brenda Rogers
I attended Hyde Park Elementary School for eight years. I attended Douglas High School until I transferred to Manassas High School to get away from my little sister, Era because she was always telling on me to our mother. Era cried a little, but that was that, she was and still is my best friend.
My older brothers Willie Roy, Ray, Ernest and my daddy, Reuben Ray Edwards, used to sing with “The Spirit of Memphis Quartet”. I tried to sing with them but they told me I was too young. They would also sing with other groups but would not let me sing with them. So I began singing with a pop singer named Lorease Thompson who taught me about singing rock and pop. He also had a group called “The Hollywood Flames”. I sang with the group, but I decided to move on to pursue my own singing career.
I left Memphis and went to Chicago, Illinois because if you wanted to make it in the music industry, Record Row on State Street was the place to be. The first thing I did was organize my own group and called them “The Dukays”. There was lead singer, Eugene Dixon aka Gene Chandler, Shirley Jones (first tenor), James Lowe (second tenor), Benjamin Broyles (bass), and me, Earl Edwards (second tenor). We were one of the most popular groups on Chicago’s south side. We had several records in the top twenty. Our most popular record “The Duke of Earl” moved to the top of the charts in the number-one spot for three weeks. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.
I met my loving wife, Frances Washington at Spiegel, we married in February 1975. We hardly went anywhere without each other. We both retired in the 90’s and was living our best life. Frances loves singing as much as I do. We joined New Mount Olive Baptist Church and were directors of the senior choir. Several years later we joined Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church, followed by New Life Seventh Day Adventist Church. I enjoyed my job of directing the church choir at each church. We attended New Life until my health started failing.
My accomplishments greater than singing was becoming the father of six beautiful children. My oldest Cassandra from Memphis, Tennessee. Earl, LaTanya, Kim, Darren and Taria from Chicago.
I worked several jobs in my lifetime. My first job was working for Mr. John Kerr on Eldridge Street in Memphis, Tennessee. I worked every day after school, plus I was helping Mr. Kerr build a house. I moved to Chicago when I was 19 years old and worked a variety of jobs. At the same time, I was establishing my singing career. My last job was at Spiegel. I started at Spiegel in the mid 1960’s. I was a group supervisor until I retired happily, in 1996.
In keeping myself busy after retirement Fran and I spent a lot of time with our grandchildren. Introducing them to church, teaching them about the Bible, going to school events, taking them to family reunions, playing in the park, and sharing stories about my life. They were a joy and kept me feeling young.
Another one of my great passions was capturing memories through the lenses of my camera and video-recorder. I could almost guarantee that most of the people in this room today have been photographed and/or recorded by me at wedding, birthday party, family reunion, school event, graduation, etc.
In my last days I was surrounded by my wife, children, grandchildren and a host of relatives and friends. I would say that they were peaceful and quiet days, but in the tradition of my family, it was full of fun and laughter. Oh, and LOTS of noise! I took my final snapshot and departed my earthly home on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. I went peacefully in my sleep, but I wasn’t alone. “I had a great and happy life!!! See you later alligator, 10-4”
I leave to cherish my loving wife of 44 years, Frances Edwards; six children, Cassandra Keller (Larue) of Memphis TN., Earl Edwards, Jr. (Veronica) of Bolingbrook, IL, L’Tanya Edwards of Chicago, IL, Kim Anderson (Chester) of Chicago, IL, Darren Edwards (Stephanie) of Chicago, IL., Taria Ford (Clarence) of Maricopa, AZ; fifteen grandchildren, DaShundra (Anthony), Sherman, T’Lanya, Xavier, Gerise, Janna, Mike, Dameka (Robert), Tiffany, Tatiana, Ashley, Wayne (Kaytlynn), Travis, Sean, Chesyca. Twenty-two great children, and one great-great grandchild; seven siblings, Thelma Yates and Sheridan Smith of Detroit, Era Hart and George Edwards (Evelyn) of Memphis, Chars Edwards (Dianna) and Ronald Edwards (Mandy) of Chicago. Janice Turnage (Ray) of Meridian, MS. and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.