- December 12, 1915 - December 1, 2016
- Fort Myers, Florida
of Arthur's Passing
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Harvey-Engelhardt Funeral Home
Dr. Arthur Richard "Dick" Edwards was born on December 12, 1915 in Harlowton, Montana, the only child of Arthur B. and Georgia (Jones) Edwards. He passed away at the age of 100 in Fort Myers, Florida, on December 1, 2016.
Dick graduated Valedictorian from Bemidji High School, Bemidji, Minnesota, in 1933. He attended Bemidji State Teachers College receiving a teaching degree; and he received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Northern Illinois College of Optometry (NICO) in 1939, and started his optometric practice in Bemidji. He was married to Eleanore Machacek, a fellow graduate of NICO on August 5, 1939.
During World War II, he served his country as a Naval Officer aboard the USS Maryland. He was aboard the ship when it was hit by a komikazee bomber. After the war he returned to Bemidji and his optometric practice.
Dr. Dick was very active in the community. He was a Boy Scout for many years, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He served as scoutmaster, and council member and he received the Silver Beaver Award, scouting's highest honor, for his service. He was an active member of the First Methodist Church, serving in many lay capacities. He served on the Bemidji School Board for many years and was a member of the Lion's Club, Toastmasters, Jaycees and a strong supporter of the Salvation Army. He was selected Jaycee's Man of the Year in 1948. He was instrumental in bringing the Concordia College Language Camps to the Bemidji area. Dick was a longtime supporter of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji.
He loved music, dancing, and was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying in particular fishing and duck hunting.
Dick and Eleanore hosted a student from Germany, Waltraut "Wally" Opper, through the International Christian Youth Exchange program in 1960-1961. This experience laid the path for a number of other foreign students to come to Bemidji under this program sponsored by the First Methodist Church.
He was a very active member of the Minnesota Optometric Association, where he was selected Optometrist of the Year in 1963.
In 1968 DIck and Eleanore traveled with another couple on an eye-care mission to Venezuela and Panama, providing eye exams and glasses to the inhabitants of remote areas. That trip led to the formation of the Minnesota Chapter of Volunteers for Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH). A number of other VOSH trips provided similar services to the people of Guatemala and Columbia.
He retired from optometry in 1973 after having practiced for 34 years. His son, Dr. Robert "Bob" Edwards took over the practice.
Dick and Eleanore enjoyed winters at their home in Fort Myers, Florida, spending many hours shelling on the Sanibel Island beaches. Summers found them enjoying their cabin on Wolf Lake, near Bemidji, Minnesota.
He gave generously to many charities and established scholarships for students at Bemidji State University, Pacific University and Concordia College.
Eleanore died in 1993 after 54 years of marriage. He married Barbara Creighton Sowerwine on January 21, 1995. They enjoyed almost 22 years of marriage and traveled the world over.
He was an excellent, supportive, encouraging and loving father, grandfather and great grandfather. He never differentiated between his own grandchildren and those who came to him by the marriage of his son and his marriage to Barbara. He loved them all and believed in each and every one of them.
Dick is survived by his loving wife, Barbara Edwards; children: Susan (Richard) Schwartz, Robert "Bob" (Billie) Edwards; step-children: Sue Becker, Bill Sowerwine, Jim Sowerwine, Nancy Young, and Tom Sowerwine; grandchildren: Jon Schwartz, Brandon Schwartz, Deanine Mann, Brent Paulson, Pete Edwards; step-grandchildren: Karen Becker, Nancy Samuelson, Shannon Sowerwine, Andy Sowerwine, Kate Scrinivasin, Leyla Lytle, John Sowerwine, Melissa Sowerwine, Kelly Trigueros, Laurie Jastifer, Mark Biener, Tawnya Kubander, Chris Sowerwine, Kenneth Sowerwine, and Sara Sowerwine; 20 great grandchildren; and many extended family and friends who will miss him dearly. Dick was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife, Eleanore Edwards, and 1 great granddaughter.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at The Springs at Shell Point, Fort Myers, FL on December 12, 2016 at 3 PM.
In lieu of flowers you may make a donation to The Boy Scouts at https://aplacetogive.scouting.org/magento/index.php/send-a-kid-to-camp-voyageurs-area.html or to VOSH Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity of Minnesota at http://voshminnesota.org/forms/donate/ in memory of Dick. Please visit www.harvey-engelhardt.com to view updated service information.
1600 Colonial Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33907
Tel. (239) 936-2177