Obituary Notices and Memorials


EDWARDS, John William 1939 ~ 2011 John Edwards, an internationally respected NASA aeronautics engineer and loving husband, father, and grandfather, passed away in Williamsburg, Va., on June 3, 2011, after a long and brave struggle with cancer. He was born July 8, 1939, in Colfax, Iowa and spent his youth in Iowa and Portland, Oregon. He graduated from Yale University in 1961, and held a PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University. He served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia as a physics teacher, 1963 to 1965. In 1965, he began work for NASA in aircraft flight control systems at Dryden Flight Research Center and resided in Lancaster. In 1980, he transferred to NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., where he was a senior research engineer in the Aeroelasticity Branch. After retiring from NASA in 2007, he continued his research there as a Distinguished Researcher, Emeritus. He was recognized as an international authority in the fields of flight control systems analysis and design, and aeroelastic analysis and testing. He was also well-liked and respected as a friend and colleague at NASA and among international leaders in the aviation industry. His career achievements included more than 80 technical publications, and solving critical problems in programs ranging from the B-2 bomber to the Space Shuttle. He was elected as Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in recognition for his significant contribution to the nation's preeminence in aviation. Of his work, Prof. Peretz Friedman of the University of Michigan stated, 'John Edwards was the first to formulate unsteady aerodynamic loads. Subsequently, John devoted himself to computational aeroelasticity in which field he has become an undisputed leader and elder statesman.' His unique expertise played a significant role in the Space Shuttle program. He designed a digital filter to quench pilot-induced oscillations upon landing, which has been active on all orbital missions of the Space Shuttle, and for which he received a patent and several awards. After the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, he led a team in testing and analysis of the foam ramps on the external tanks, which contributed to decisions that allowed the Shuttle return to flight. He had many hobbies, including photography and woodworking, and was an accomplished chef. He was a patient and caring father, who encouraged his daughters to be independent. His curious and open mind, and his love of travel and history inspired his entire family. Preceding him in death are his father Lewis Edwards, mother Zola Edwards Cole, and brother Robert Edwards. He is survived by the love of his life and wife of 44 years, Addy Edwards of Williamsburg, Va.; two daughters, Susan Edwards of Los Angeles, and Mary Edwards of Boston; and his three grandsons, Colin, Matthew, and Thomas. A Memorial Service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, June 9, 2011, preceded by a gathering at Nelsen Funeral Home in Williamsburg, Va. The family asks that donations be made in his memory to Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. Online condolences may be expressed at

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