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Murrel BlandMurrel Bland
Simply stated, Joan Edwards was the quintessential classy lady. She died at age 92 Wednesday, March 20, at her home in Mission Hills.
The last time I saw her was in 2005 when I was gathering information for “The 50s in Wyandotte County” book. She was an excellent resource; she was the family historian and had considerable information about her father, Harry Darby, an industrialist and Republican Party activist. During the early 1950s, Darby was appointed U.S. Senator. She provided me with several important photos including one of Sen. Darby, herself and her three other sisters, Edith Darby Evans, Harriet Darby Gibson and Marjorie Darby Alford.
I always enjoyed visiting with Joan and her husband, Roy Edwards Jr. Roy died in 1987. Both were very loyal University of Kansas graduates who were always ready to support their alma mater. In 1990, when Clay Blair III, a Johnson County land developer, donated 36 acres to KU for an Overland Park campus, he requested it be named in honor of Roy and Joan Edwards. Today the Edwards campus serves the Kansas City area, particularly by providing very popular and important graduate courses and other classes.
Joan graduated from KU in 1942. She and Roy, who were married for 44 years, had three children—all KU graduates. They are R.A. Edwards, Hutchinson, Kan.: Barbara Edwards, Fairway; and Susan Edwards Miller, Mission Hills. Joan received the highest honor that KU awards in 1991—the Fred Ellsworth Medallion. Her husband and son received the same honor. Ellsworth was a longtime director of the KU Alumni Association. She also served on search committees for KU coaches, athletic directors and vice chancellors.
Joan was a very active volunteer community leader with several community organizations including the Junior League and the Bethany Medical Center Foundation.
Friends and family remembered Joan Edwards Tuesday, March 26, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1300 N. 18th St., where she and Roy were longtime members. The family has suggested that Joan be remembered with memorial contributions to the church or to the KU Endowment Association. That would be most appropriate for someone who gave so much to the community and to KU.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press.