Merrill Jerome Edwards, passed away Thursday, September 2, 2021. He was born July 17, 1939 in Starke, FL, the son of the late Mr. & Mrs. Merrill Edwards.
Mr. Edwards graduated from Bradford County High School in 1957 and graduated from Florida State University in 1961 with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education (trumpet-principal instrument). He completed his Masters Degree (MME) in 1964. He was a member of the Marching Chiefs (FSU Band), Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Brass Choir, and other musical ensembles; also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (professional music fraternity) and Kappa Kappa Psi (honorary band fraternity). Mr. Edwards was very active in sports, he lettered four years in gymnastics (still rings, flying rings, rope climb) and was a scholarship recipient on the gymnastics team; named All-American in gymnastics in 1960; freshman track team (pole vaulter) and a member of Gymnastica (athletic performance honorary club). He taught in Sneads, FL for two years; carried both band and chorus to district/state music performance evaluation and received "Superior" ratings for both groups during the second year; he was selected as outstanding "Young Teacher of the Year" in Jackson County in 1963 and received the American Legion Award for Meritorious Service and Superior Leadership at the end of the 1962-63 school term. He taught in Immokalee, FL during the 1964-65 school term, and moved to Naples Senior High School as Director of Bands in 1965 and rebuilt the band program. He was selected "Outstanding Young Educator" in 1967 by the Naples Jaycees; he directed the Naples Community Chorus for more than a decade, and directed "The Southerners" (a British Brass Band), with an adult membership of talented amateurs and professionals from throughout South Florida from 1996-2005. He has been active in professional, religious, and civic organizations since 1961 and retired as Chancel Choir Director for the First United Methodist Church; was Director of Music from 1979-2010 and conducted the Chancel Choir, First UMC Orchestra, Adult Hand Bell Choir and High School Choir; Director of Music for the Rabun Gap Presbyterian Church in Dillard, GA from 2015-2018. Mr. Edwards has been, or is currently a member of the following professional organizations: American School Band Directors Assn., F. B. A., Music Educators National Conference, National Bandmasters Assn., National Assn. of Jazz Educators, Florida Assn. of Jazz Educators, Florida Music Educators Assn., Collier County Education Assn., Collier County Music Teachers Assn., Collier County High School Band Directors Assn., Phi Beta Mu, and Phi MuAlpha Sinfonia. He was elected into the Florida Bandmasters Assn. Hall of Fame in 2012. Mr. Edwards was also an avid coin collector, collected Indian Artifacts since childhood, was a lifeguard in high school, was a serious "golf-a-holic" and played at every opportunity.
He is survived by his wife, Judith Lee Meyers Edwards; sons, Jerry (wife, Marie living in Europe, Mark ( wife Jeanine, children, Izack, Ariana and Amelie) and Scott (wife, Darcy, children Breckin, Blake, and Jordan); sister, Marylou Black; brother, Steve Edwards.
A funeral service will be held Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 12:00 noon in the Chapel of Bryant-Grant Funeral Home, with Rev. David Beam officiating. The family will receive friends from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, Wednesday evening at the funeral home. Burial will be at Rabun Gap Presbyterian Church Cemetery.
Bryant-Grant Funeral Home is serving the Edwards family. Online condolences may be made at www.bryantgrantfuneralhome.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Merrill Jerome Edwards, please visit our floral store.