Former Governor James Edwards who passed away Friday, was laid to rest Monday. He was South Carolina’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction.
At his funeral Monday, his son-in-law Ken Wingate said Edwards should be remembered for much more than that. “He had a genuine concern for the well being of others,” Wingate told those gathered at St. Phillips Church in Charleston. “He always looked for the best in other people, but cast a patient and sympathetic eye when they fell short.”
Besides serving one term as governor, Edwards was an oral surgeon and was President Ronald Reagan’s energy secretary. He also served as president of the Medical University of South Carolina for 17 years.
Wingate said Edwards also lived his life with humor, humanity and humility, all traits he showed when he joked that all the things he did in his life just pointed out he couldn’t keep a job.
“He was always colloquial. He was always the statesman.” Wingate said.
“He never met a stranger. He never turned a request for help. He never let race, or creed or party affiliation color his love for people. Though he held his Republican ideals very closely, he embraced everyone across the aisle.”
Edwards was slowed in 2013 by a stroke, but still entertained company and went to MUSC events just weeks before his death.
During the 1974 GOP primary for governor, he beat retired General William Westmoreland, a commander during the Vietnam War, and then took advantage of Democratic infighting to win the general election that November.
Current Governor Nikki Haley joined three former governors Dick Riley, David Beasley and Mark Sanford among other politicians and notables at the funeral. Shortly after the ceremony, Edwards was buried in Mount Pleasant.