Robert Gerald "Bob" Edwards was born on May 20, 1935, in Van Buren,
Arkansas, to Rhuel Teal and Blake Marie (Hickey) Edwards. He grew up one
of 11 siblings in an area near the Arkansas River known as "Yost Town."
A memorial service and celebration of Bob’s life will
be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, at First United Methodist
Church in Dardanelle, AR. A reception will be held in the Life Center
following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to
First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 188, Dardanelle, AR 72834.
Bob was an R.O.T.C. member when he graduated from Van
Buren High School in 1953. Following graduation, he moved to California
where he was assigned to the Ready Reserves and later drafted into the
United States Army, serving two years of active duty and earning the
Medal of Good Conduct. He was honorably discharged as a Specialist
Fourth Class from Fort Jackson, S. C., on March 3, 1960.
He married Alma Virginia McKinney on Feb. 3, 1962, in
Las Vegas, Nevada. The family grew to include children Cleon Nolan,
Jeanne Renee and Lori Michelle Edwards.
Following a lead from his uncle, Bob moved from
California and began operating a SunRay DX station in Fort Smith in
1962. He was later hired independently as a jobber dealing with other
SunRay dealers. This was just the beginning of his dedicated career
which moved the family first from California, then to Fort Smith and
later to North Little Rock in 1965.
Bob opened the first Freeway Service Station in
Arkansas, located in Fort Smith, followed by stations in Clarksville,
Arkadelphia and Malvern. He led in the opening of the first diesel
Freeway station built in Russellville in 1965 and developed stations in
Memphis and Batesville. He was involved in the purchase of stations in
Tennessee and Alabama and traveled extensively throughout the South-east
region for more than three decades.
Bob served two terms as the Arkansas Petroleum Council
representative to the Regulated Storage Tank Advisory Committee from
1989 to 1997.
Before his retirement in 1998, Bob spent 36 years
within various companies, serving as division, area and district
managers with SunRay DX, South Central Oil Company, Premier
Petroleum-Freeway, Mapco/Delta Express, and then lastly, with The
Williams Companies as they purchased the company just prior to
said that during the many company transitions he always remained
employed with each new company – "He had been purchased many times but
had never been sold."
Though Bob and Virginia spent many years living and
working in North Little Rock, they were drawn to the Arkansas River
Valley in the early 1970s, enjoying weekends fishing and skiing with the
children at their lake house on Round Mountain in London. Following
Bob’s retirement, he and Virginia moved into their dream home on Bay
Ridge Road in Dardanelle.
Since that time, the couple has been active members of First United
Methodist Church where Bob served on the Pastoral Parish Relations,
Finance and Building committees. Together they earned Master Gardner’s
Certification, completing projects at the Arkansas River Valley Regional
Library, Yell County Courthouse, Dardanelle Post Office and First United
Methodist Church. The couple delivered Meals on Wheels, and was active
members of TAKAHIK River Valley Hikers.
Bob’s hobbies included fishing and skiing beautiful
Greer’s Ferry Lake and Lake Dardanelle, and golfing with his "Over the
Hill Gang" buddies. Bob delighted in spending time with his family and
being out-of-doors, riding his tractor or tinkering in his shop on the
couple’s property in Dardanelle.
Bob is survived by his wife of 49 years, Virginia, of
Dardanelle; a son, Nolan Edwards, and wife Dianne of Russellville; a
daughter, Renee Bennett of Benton, and a daughter, Lori McCauley and
husband David of North Little Rock. Also surviving are his
grandchildren, Eric Bennett of Jacksonville, Laura Melton and husband
Daniel of Cabot, Stephanie Lane and husband Jesse of Springdale, Melissa
Edwards of Fort Smith, and Blake and Alexis McCauley of North Little
Rock; and great-grandchildren Kindsay Bennett and Eric Bennett Jr.
Bob is also survived by his sisters Wanda Jones of
Glendale, Ariz., Anita Wilson and husband William of Sherwood; Carol
Allen of Preston, Connecticut, and Sally Kinkley of Worthington, Ohio.
He is also survived by his sister-in-laws, Thelma Edwards of Roland,
Okla.; Delores Edwards of Texas, Joann Edwards of Ohio and Reda Edwards
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Willis, Dean,
Danny and Randy, and his sisters, Patsy and Alice.
Pallbearers include the "Over the Hill" Gang Golf
Buddies: Vernon Arnold, Dr. David Bachman, Bill Clark, Jim Daly and Dr.
Gene B. Ring. Honorary pallbearers are Bobby Balloun and Glyndal
The family would like to express special thanks to
their close friends and extended family, as well as the caring
associates of Arkansas Department of Health Hospice and Yell County Home
Health whose diligent care allowed Bob to remain in their home until the
time of his passing on Christmas Eve. He was 76.