Mourning ‘a big man with a big heart’

Published 10:43 am Saturday, March 6, 2010

FRANKLIN—The Franklin City Schools community is mourning the loss of Johnnie Edwards Jr., who, until his retirement last year, was the assistant principal at S.P. Morton Elementary.

Edwards died Tuesday at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk. Dr. Rick Clemons, assistant superintendent of Franklin City Schools, said that Edwards was “just an all around good guy.”

“He was an excellent employee, and on top of that, he was an even better person,” Clemons said. “He always had a smile on his face.”

“He loved those kids down at that elementary school and he loved that staff over at S.P. Morton,” Clemons said.

Edwards, a Suffolk native, was hired as the assistant principal at S.P. Morton Middle School in 2002, and continued to serve as assistant principal when S.P. Morton became an elementary school for the 2003-04 school year.

S.P. Morton Principal Don Spengeman said Edwards was a hit with the school’s students.

“They loved him and looked up to him,” Spengeman said. “He was just a really, really caring person and was very well-loved by his coworkers and the students.”

Spengeman said that Edwards spent more than 30 years working in education and was “very civic-minded” and involved in youth and civic programs in Suffolk, where he lived.

Spengeman said Edwards was a “really good father,” who treated the students “kind of like his own.”

“We called him a big man with a big heart,” Spengeman said. A graveside service was scheduled for at 11 a.m. Saturday at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Suffolk.