Major Jay Thomas Edwards
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Major Jay Thomas Edwards
  • June 27, 1931 - December 8, 2017
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Major General Jay Thomas Edwards, III (USAF, Retired), went to his Heavenly Home in the quiet peacefulness of the pre-dawn hours on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. He was surrounded by his wife, Pat, of 63 years, his daughters, Linda and Lisa, and his beloved dog, Caesar. His son, Whit, who predeceased him, sent special signs that he was there too and waiting to show him the Glory of the Kingdom. Jay had the privilege of living with his Earthly family for 86 years. He was a grandfather of seven and a great-grandfather of eight, with two more on the way.
Jay was born on June 27, 1931 in Clarksville, TN, and graduated from Clarksville High School in 1949. He attended Marion Military Institute in Alabama and graduated with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, in 1954. He earned Master's degrees in Aeronautical Engineering from Texas A&M University and Public Administration from George Washington University. He is also a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Jay spent 28 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 1982 as the Commanding General of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, the Air Force's largest industrial depot facility that provides worldwide support to Air Force units in time of peace and war. While commander, Jay was host to President-elect Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, when they stopped at Tinker for Reagan's plane to refuel.
During his service in the Air Force, Jay flew 252 combat missions in F-100s during the Vietnam War, earning the Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 15 Air Medals and many foreign medals. His decorations include the nation's highest peacetime award, the Distinguished Service Medal, awarded twice, and the Legion of Merit. During his military career he served as a fighter pilot, a research engineer, a logistician and a project manager for new weapon systems. Jay was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame in 2004.
Since leaving the Air Force, Jay has served as the founding Executive Director of the University of Oklahoma Energy Center, the President of CMI Corporation, the General Administrator of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and President of the Aeronautical Science Technology Education Center and Charter School. Edwards' last position was as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, where he led the work necessary to bring the space industry to Oklahoma by pioneering the development of a spaceport for space operations and attracting companies to the state. He also worked for Tennessee Associates International, a consulting firm, and Rocketplane Limited, Inc. which envisioned building a rocketplane that would send passengers more than 330,000 feet above the Earth and launch satellites. In each of these leadership positions, he brought a sense of teamwork, accountability and service to others.
He also has been active in local civic affairs by serving on the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma State Fair Board, and Oklahoma Air Space Museum and Hall of Fame Board, Kirkpatrick Center Board, Boy Scouts Last Frontier Council, Co-Chairman of the Veterans War Memorial, Chairman of the American Heart Association Development Committee and Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, among others. He conducted numerous speaking engagements and TV appearances on defense issues. He was a member of the West Point Society of Central Oklahoma and served as the Oldest Graduate at Founder's Day in Oklahoma City for the last four years. Jay published a memoir in 2006 called "Stories I Tell My Friends."
Joys late in life were performing in the Oklahoma Senior Follies and competing at tennis and croquet with his friends at the Oklahoma Golf and Country Club.
Jay is survived by his wife Patricia, daughter Linda McNabb of Round Rock, TX, and her children, Ross McNabb and his wife Leslie of Ballwin, MO and Dana McNabb of Austin, TX, and daughter Lisa Reynolds and her husband Rob of Lawrence, KS and their children, Joe Reynolds and Julie Reynolds of Stillwater, OK, his grandchildren Blair Kersenbrock and her husband Ben and their children, Cameron and Isaac, of Orlando, FLA, Haley Uthlaut and her husband Dave and their children, Jackson, Caleb, Savannah and Madison, of Colorado Springs, CO, Jay Edwards and his wife Andie and their children, Jay and Harper of Edmond, OK, and his son's widow, Rosemary Romano and her husband Jim of Edmond, OK. He is also survived by his sister, Harriette McClendon of Memphis, TN, nephew Rob McClendon, of Raymore, MO, nephew Steve McClendon of Riverview, FLA, niece Amanda Norris of Wilmington, NC and nephew John McClendon, of Indian Trail, NC. He was preceded in death by his father, J.T. Edwards, his mother, Amanda Edwards and his son, Thomas Whitfield Edwards.
A local Memorial Service will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 18 at All Souls Episcopal Church. Per his wishes, Jay will be interred later with his fellow fallen classmates on the hallowed grounds of West Point. He and his family are thankful for his special caregivers from Providence Home Health and Centennial Hospice who treated him with love, respect and admiration.
At ease, General. Be Thou at Peace.