MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – James Burrows Edwards, DMD, 87, of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, died Friday, December 26, 2014.
Jim was born June 24, 1927, in Hawthorne, Florida to the late O.M. and Bertie Ray Edwards. Both parents were school teachers, careers which led them to St. Andrews, South Carolina, in 1935 and Mt. Pleasant in 1937. As a boy in Mt. Pleasant, Jim spent his spare time at Ft. Moultrie, home of the 263rd Coast Artillery, and acquired a lifelong love of the military and life at sea. Jim graduated from Moultrie High School in June 1944, and took a job with the Army Transportation Corps as a deck hand on an L-78 tug boat. Though only 17 years old, he joined the Merchant Marines in December 1944. Jim was assigned to the Dogwood, a Liberty Ship converted to a hospital ship transporting wounded servicemen home from Europe. Eventually he also served on the U.S.A.T. Bridgeport, the George Washington, and the Larkspur. Jim worked his way through the ranks from ordinary seaman to an officer by age 19, licensed to pilot ships transporting “any tonnage on any water in the world.”
In 1947, Jim began studies at the College of Charleston, while also working as a night officer on ships as a member of the Master, Mates and Pilots Association. During summers, he remained active in seafaring trade, delivering coal to France and England, granite for the Santee Cooper Dam, and general cargo to ports throughout the Caribbean and South America. Jim graduated from the College of Charleston in 1951, married Ann Darlington, his childhood sweetheart, and entered dental school at the University of Louisville. Upon graduation, he served two years on active duty with the U.S. Navy in Chincoteague, Virginia, as a general dentist. He would remain active in the United States Naval Reserve until 1967, retiring as a lieutenant commander. After completing graduate medical training at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and a residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, Jim pursued his dream to return to Charleston, establishing his practice in Oral and Maxillofacial surgery in 1960.
While building a thriving practice, Jim entered the political arena, serving six years as the Charleston County Republican Party chairman. An unsuccessful bid for the United States Congress in 1971 was soon followed by his election to the South Carolina State Senate in 1972. Two years later, Jim was elected Governor of South Carolina – the state’s first Republican Governor since reconstruction. Jim served as governor from 1975 to 1979, returning briefly to his oral surgery practice in Charleston.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Jim as Secretary of the United States Department of Energy, a position he held until November 1982, when he was called as president of the Medical University of South Carolina. Jim served as president of MUSC for 17 years, retiring in 2000. As president emeritus, Jim actively continued fundraising for the MUSC Health Sciences Foundation until 2014. Among numerous civic and academic honors, Jim was granted the Order of the Palmetto for his public service to the State of South Carolina, and is an inductee into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. He served on the Board of Directors of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, SCANA, South Carolina National Bank, Encyclopedia Brittanica, Waste Management, Chemical Waste Management, J. P. Stevens, Brendles, IMO Delaval, Inc., Philips Petroleum, National Data Corporation, Burris Chemical Co., the W. M. Benton Foundation, the MUSC Health Sciences Foundation, and the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT).
Jim is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Ann; his son, James B. Edwards, Jr. and his wife, Jenny, of Columbia; his daughter, Catharine E. Wingate, and her husband, Ken, of Columbia; grandchildren, Miriam Wingate Ashworth, K. Bryan Wingate, Jr., Ansley Darlington Edwards, James B. Edwards, III., Catharine Paxson Wingate, and Hellen Tucker Edwards; one great-grandchild, Eliza Ann Wingate, and numerous nephews and nieces. In addition to his parents, Jim was preceded in death by his sister, Josephine E. Pinckney, his brother, Dr. Morton Thomas Edwards, his sisters, Ada Frances E. Melchers and Jane Ann E. Varn.
Visitation will be from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 28, 2014 at St. Luke’s Chapel, on the Campus of the Medical University of South Carolina. The funeral service will be conducted at St. Philip’s Church at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, December 29, 2014 by The Rt. Rev’d. Dr. C. FitzSimons Allison. Interment will follow in the churchyard of Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant, after which the family will receive visitors in the parish hall of Christ Church. The family requests, in lieu of flowers, that memorials be made to the MUSC Foundation for the College of Nursing or for the College of Dental Medicine. (MUSC Foundation, 18 Bee Street, Charleston, SC 29425).
Arrangements by J. HENRY STUHR INC., MOUNT PLEASANT CHAPEL. A memorial message may be sent to the family by visiting our website at www.jhenrystuhr.com.