Friday, February 14, 2014

THOMAS R. EDWARDS (1938-1999): Author & Friend

It takes more than reading books or blogs about writing to become a published author.  You can read the advice given in them, join writer’s groups and build what they call a writer’s platform, but the real thing that gets you in print is a break.  That break for me came from a man who was the first author I ever knew.

Thomas R. Edwards (June 24, 1938- February 16, 1999) was many different things to different people.  To my oldest sister he was her husband, best friend and father of her three children.  He was a father and a brother-in-law.  To others he was their minister or for a few years also their local newspaper editor & publisher.  He was a fisherman and a photographer.  He was a missionary to Alaska and worked in sales for awhile.  He started and closed businesses, but he never stopped dreaming. 

Thomas R. Edwards was an ordained minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ. He was ordained into the ministry by his home church in Vincennes, Indiana in 1962.  He held a B.S.L. from Johnson Bible College now Johnson University and a Masters of Sacred Literature from Louisville Bible College.

He was a great friend.  In some of my darkest days he called me regularly.  At the time I did not know he was dying, but now I feel sure he did.  The things he faced did not stop him from helping me.  That is a friend.  If you had asked most people in the larger family group, they would have said Tom and I were not very close.  They would have been wrong.  Let me tell you what we shared.

I have a signed copy of his book Publicize Your Church published in 1970 by Standard Publishing. We talked about the fact that Standard did almost nothing to promote the book.

I have a copy of his article that appeared in the April 1971 issue of “Alaska” for which he both wrote the article and did the photography.

I have a draft of the book and the book Seven Days to Freelance Writing which was published in 1992.

In a letter from him dated March 18, 1992 he told me about becoming “the president of the newly formed Frankfort Writer’s Guild.

In my copy of his last book Fifty Years of Faithful Preparation 1948-1998 my sister Jan, his wife, wrote “Thanks for all your encouragement as he tried to complete this project.”  I did not do anything.  He did for me.

He encouraged me to write and published my first fiction stories and poems ever seen in print.  I know my sister played a part in making the decision, but I also know that if he did not want them in his new venture “Christian-graphic” they would not have been in there.  I also know what he said to me.

He not only published my early work he edited and tried to get a novel of mine published.  The project came to a halt, but he put a lot of work into it. 

I have had a number of articles, a book, and a chapbook published and I write regularly on a blog since those early poems and fiction stories were published.  My friend is still pushing me to keep writing and to keep dreaming.

Here is one of the poems "Christian-graphic" published

early one morning
on the way
from bethany to jerusalem
jesus came
upon a fig tree
being hungry
and finding it
without fruit
he cursed it

upon his arrival
in jerusalem
he went to the temple
finding what he
termed a
den of thieves
he cast
them out

i pray
that as he looks
at me
he finds the fruit
of christian love
and upon entering
my soul
the temple of god
he doesn't find
a den of thieves
Edward Cooper
(probably 1978 © "Christian-graphic")

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