AUGUSTA — The family of Thomas “Tom” F. Edwards sadly announces his passing on Monday, Feb. 21, at MaineGeneral Medical Center. One of the Greatest Generations, he survived the Great Depression and World War II, and went on to lead a remarkable life.

He was born Oct. 20, 1922, in Chicago, Ill., the eldest son of Frederick and Emma (Grainer) Edwards. He lived and attended school in Downers Grove, Ill. A lifelong hard worker, he set pins in a bowling alley and caddied at a local golf course as a child to help his family through the Depression. He joined the National Guard at age 17, his service status converting to the U.S. Army by the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. He served in the infantry from 1941 to 1945, in the Americal Division — island-hopping in the South Pacific campaign from Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, New Guinea, Guadalcanal, Bougainville, to the Philippines.

He was very proud to have served his country, and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service. He often said that he never expected to see age 19 so every birthday after that was a gift.

After the war, he returned to Downers Grove and worked as an electrical lineman. It was through this employment that he met the love of his life, Betty Jane Gerlach. They married in 1948, and wished for two children, a boy and a girl. Their wish was granted with the birth of Jeffrey in 1949, and Linda in 1951, making their family complete.

He worked as a salesman for Prudential Insurance for several years until he took the risk to relocate the family from the Midwest to Cape Elizabeth in 1960, accepting the position of general manager of Atlantis Homes, Incorporated. The company owned and operated three successful nursing homes in southern Maine.

Very active in advocating for the nursing home industry and their residents, he was well-known in Augusta and served a term as president of the Maine Healthcare Association. Skilled in business management, he also served as part-owner and manager of the Crescent Beach Inn, now Inn by the Sea, in Cape Elizabeth.

Once the kids were grown and out of the house, Tom and Betty left Cape Elizabeth and moved to Megquier Hill in West Poland fulfilling Tom’s lifelong dream of owning a farm. There they raised polled Hereford cattle, gardened, canned, and tapped their own maple trees to make syrup. During their years in Poland, they were active Grange members and made many lifelong friends.

In 1987, they moved to Fairfield, establishing Vista Ridge Farm, where they raised champion Shire horses. He and Betty were active members of the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Waterville. During this period, Tom also spent many happy times with friends and family at the family camp on North Pond in Smithfield. He remained at Vista Ridge Farm until the last few months of his life when his health declined and he became a resident of Maine Veterans’ Home in Augusta. He had had several previous rehabilitation stays at Maine Veterans’ Home and felt loved, respected, and well-cared for there.

He is survived by his son, Jeffrey T. Edwards and wife, Houri, of Cape Elizabeth; daughter, Linda E. Edwards of Clinton; grandson, Alexander Nimon; grandson, James H. Edwards and wife, Jamie, of Gorham; and great-grandson, Jack, of whom he was especially proud; granddaughter, Christina S. Edwards of Cape Elizabeth; niece, Kathy Scaglione; and nephew, Robert Edwards of Illinois.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Betty in 2007; and a day never went by since her parting that he did not talk about missing her and he rejoins her now at last. He was also predeceased by both parents; his sisters, Pearl and Edna; brothers, Frederick “Fritz” and William “Bill”; nephews, Ricky and Johnny Edwards.

The family wishes to extend their heartfelt gratitude to all of the providers who made his later years comfortable and happy. These include Tammy, Michelle and Jackie at Dr. Opalinsky’s and the staff of Dr. Thomas McDermott, who was his primary care physician for 20 years before his own untimely passing, staff and friends at the Muskie Center in Waterville, everyone at Maine Veterans’ Home in Augusta, and the nurses and hospitalists who cared for him at the end on A1 at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta.

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