Dr. Robert Thomas Edwards

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, May 22, 2012

FRANKLIN—Dr. Robert Thomas Edwards, a lifelong citizen of Franklin, died on Monday, May 21, 2012.

He was born in Southampton County on Jan., 28, 1925, the son of Ryland Thomas and Josie Vaughan Edwards.

Dr. Edwards graduated from Franklin High School in 1942 and entered military service early in 1943, spending 18 months in the European theater. In January 1946 he was discharged from the U. S. Army as a Master Sergeant and continued his service in the reserves, later resigning as a 1st Lieutenant upon coming to Franklin to practice dentistry.

Dr. Edwards was a 1950 graduate of Randolph Macon College and in 1953 received his doctorate in dentistry from the Medical College of Virginia. After graduation, he and his wife returned to Franklin to establish his dental practice.

They joined the Franklin Baptist Church where he served four terms on the Board of Deacons, one as its chairman, and in many other capacities in the church and Sunday School programs.

Throughout his career, Dr. Edwards was extremely active in this community, serving in the Jaycees, the Franklin Lions Club, as a member and past president of United Way, and board member and past president of the Franklin YMCA.

He served the city for many years through his appointment to and as chairman of the City Planning Commission.

He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Cypress Cove Country Club.

Professionally, Dr. Edwards was honored by his peers as a Fellow of the Virginia Dental Association, a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, a Fellow of the International College of Dentists and through selection to the Randolph Macon College Chemistry Department Hall of Fame. He was also a past president of the Southside Dental Society.

In 1973 the Virginia Dental Association recommended to Governor Holton that Dr. Edwards be appointed to a five-year term on the Virginia Board of Dentistry. At the end of that term, he was recommended to Governor Dalton for reappointment and during this term also served as President of the Virginia Board of Dentistry.

He was one of the founders of the Southern Regional Testing Agency, which examined dentists for licensure in Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, and served as its president for one term.

Dr. Edwards considered his participation in the renovation of the Bland Dental Clinic in Bland, Va., and the time he and his wife spent in the mission dentistry program there as one of his most gratifying accomplishments in his dental career.

He is survived by his wife of sixty years, Mary Davis Edwards, and three children, Nancy Van Der Griend and husband Kenneth of Oak Park, Ill., Robert Thomas Edwards Jr. and wife Mary Landon of Norfolk, and Scott Davis Edwards and wife Alisa of Nashville, Tenn.

Grandchildren include Mary Cate Walker, Ellie Van Der Griend, Gretchen Edwards, Hallie Edwards, Robert Davis Edwards and Carolyn Edwards. He is also survived by four sisters, Rebecca Carter and husband, E. Rawls Carter of Powellsville N.C., Gaynelle Riddick and husband William H. Riddick of Franklin, Lucille Carter of Raleigh, N.C., Lena Giles and husband George Giles of Morristown, Tenn.; one brother, Winston Franklin Edwards and wife Sandra, of Franklin; and a number of nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by a brother, Richard Vaughan Edwards.

A memorial service will be held at the Franklin Baptist Church on Friday, May 25, at 1 p.m. The family will receive friends on Thursday, May 24, 4-6 p.m. at The Village at Woods Edge, 1401 N. High St.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Bland Dental Clinic, P.O. Box 211, Bland, Va., 24315, or the Franklin Baptist Church, 208 N. High St., Franklin, Va., 23851, or the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 3330, Glen Allen, Va., 23058. www.wrightfuneralhome.org.