Edward F. Varney

Obituary for Edward F. Varney

April 17, 1943 - June 20, 2021
Anthem, Arizona | Age 78

Obituary

Edward Frank Varney, a seasoned salesman for Batesville Casket Company blessed with an unwavering affability and eagerness to create community wherever he lived, died on June 20, 2021 at home in Anthem, AZ surrounded by his family. He was 78.

A blue-eyed sparkler with rosy cheeks, Ed was born in Port Washington, NY on April 17, 1943, the son of Elbert C. and Dorothy (Heim) Varney. His family, including his sister Adele, later moved to Woodstock, where his father served as the bank branch president and lay minister. As he would his entire life, young "Eddie" embraced adventure, enjoying the Hudson Valley's mountains and forests and saddling up his horse, Tony and the more exotic pleasures of urban life, including convincing his parents to buy him a baby crocodile at the Macy's in New York City.

Ed earned his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Vermont in 1966, and later attended Fairleigh Dickinson University. His college days in Vermont proved fruitful: it was at UVM that he met Bettejean Haines, a brainy and stunning nursing student. He wooed her with his mix of good humor and heartfelt sentiment. Bettejean, impressed by Ed's good character (if not his grades), agreed to share her life with him. They married on December 30, 1966 in Pittsfield, NH and soon moved to Heidelberg, Germany where Ed became a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, commanding a transportation company. The two-year adventure overseas cemented their shared love for new places and people, as the young couple tooled around the old countries in a Ford Mustang. Those travels would continue throughout their five-decade-long union, with activity-packed trips to Hungary, Denmark, Italy and France, where they rented an apartment in Paris and saw Notre Dame just before it burned.

After serving in the Army, the young couple moved to Morristown, NJ, where Ed got his first job at Regal Paper, an entry-level position with an unbeatable view, located on the 74th floor in the Empire State Building.

In 1970, he and Betty welcomed their son, Adam, and they soon built a home in Ringwood, NJ. Daughter Sarah was born in 1972, just before the family moved to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, her father tired of the commute into the city and dreaming of something better for his brood.

Ed dreamed of owning his own business, and the couple bought a souvenir wholesale business in Meredith. But the market for totem poles and moccasins was less than anticipated and Ed soon hit the road to find a new way to make a living. He found one as a salesman for Batesville Casket Company, covering hundreds of miles of territory between western Vermont and northern Maine and forging lifelong friendships with funeral home directors and their families.

The skills that Ed brought to sales he brought to life: a friendly, welcoming persona, answering calls and conversations with a hearty "Hello there!" and always asking more questions about other people's lives than opining on himself. That sense of service and empathy is carried on by his children, Sarah and Adam.

The family lived on Hatch Corner Road in Meredith for 25 years, sharing their homestead with horses, dogs, cats and chickens, tending to—and often mending—a centuries-old barn and exploring the woods behind the home. During his down time, Ed plowed the waves of Lake Winnipesaukee on the family boat, serving as "the Commodore" and founding member of the Bay Shore Yacht Club (a title which was an inside-joke for a group of boat-owners whose watercraft wouldn't quite live up to the name of the club).

Over the years, Ed served in a variety of civic-minded roles, as a member of the Meredith Planning Board, Meredith Kiwanis, an educational scholarship fund and founding member of Meredith Day Care Center, a childcare center for families of any means. He served as deacon of the First Congregational Church in Meredith and in Anthem, AZ, his home after retirement, that commitment continued: he was elected to the community planning committee, and, a long time Rotarian, Ed was instrumental in the establishment and annual work done to award scholarships to eligible graduating high school seniors in Anthem and the surrounding areas. The Rotary Board of Directors announced shortly before his death that the fund is to be named the Edward F. Varney Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Ed fashioned a busy retirement; as dedicated grandparents, he and Betty were on the road every few months, visiting San Francisco and San Antonio; as loving partners, the couple explored Europe, rode horses and rafted in Denali National Park, drove across much of the Northwest, and hiked in the national parks of the American West, in Utah, Idaho and Arizona, often with friends from the Anthem hiking club.

Even when at home, Ed looked for new experiences: he was seemingly the only man in the Anthem Country Club who played mah-jongg for money, joining Betty's womens-only group; he met weekly with his R.O.M.E.O. friends (Retired Old Men Eating Out), the Wednesday's Club and his book club.

As his health failed under the strain of cancer, Ed traveled back East to explore his family's genealogy, often in weed-choked cemeteries.

Ed is survived by his wife, Betty; his children, Adam J. Varney of Helotes, TX and Sarah M. Varney of San Francisco, CA; his grandchildren, Morgan and Ella Varney, Fountain Whitaker; nephews and nieces.

SERVICES: Calling hours are Wednesday (6/30) from 4 to 7 p.m. at Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, 1799 Elm St., Manchester. A funeral ceremony is Thursday at noon in the funeral home followed by a committal service at the NH State Veterans Cemetery, 110 Daniel Webster Highway, Boscawen.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Anthem Rotary Foundation Edward F. Varney Scholarship Fund, 3655 W. Anthem Way, Suite A109, Anthem, AZ 85086

Recommended Local Florist

Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Anthem Rotary Foundation Edward F. Varney Scholarship Fund
    3655 W. Anthem Way, Suite A109
    Anthem, AZ 85086

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Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory

1799 Elm St
Manchester, NH 03104
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