Paul D. “PETE” Edwards, 72, a resident of Kissimmee, Osceola County Florida for 63 years, passed away peacefully at his home on April 22nd, 2019, surrounded by his loving family and wife of 47 years in June, Felicia. Pete’s life was one devoted to selfless service to his family, his community, and his country.
Pete was born in Akron, Ohio on October 5th, 1946 and moved with his family to Kissimmee in 1956. He is a 1966 graduate from Osceola High School where he was an active student as Editor in Chief of the Yearbook, member of Thespians, Key Club, Student Council, and the Track Team, on which he set the school record in 1965 for the 2 mile run.
He served his country in the US Marine Corps from 1968-1970 in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division, and was a proud veteran. In 1972 he graduated from Valencia Community College with an Associate of Arts Degree, and in 1974 he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism and Public Relations from the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Pete was an extremely active member of the community and served on over 22 volunteer boards including The Osceola County Education Foundation for over 25 years, Community Vision for 25 years (since inception), and Osceola County Historical Society as President. He was elected to the Osceola County School Board from 1990-1998 where he served twice as Chairman of the Board. He managed the Osceola County Center for the Arts from 1990-1997 served from 1995-97 as statewide chairman of Arts for a Complete Education. He loved gardening and was a Master Gardner with the Osceola Extensions Services of the University of Florida.
Past community activities included charter member of Toastmasters, member and president of the Osceola Jaycees, board member and chairman of The Florida Alliance for Arts Education (ACE), World Class Schools “Champion”, Osceola County Economic Development Task Force, Walt Disney Community Service Awards Judge, United Way of Osceola County, and the Board of Trustees for Kissimmee Memorial Hospital (now Advent Health).
A member of the Rotary Club of Kissimmee since 1977, he was Club President in 1984-85 and held perfect attendance for 42 years. There he was a co-initiator and long-time chairman of the Great Florida Shootout, an annual high school basketball tournament which attracted high-caliber teams to the Kissimmee area along with some future NBA talents. In 2013-14 he had the honor of serving as Rotary District Governor responsible for all clubs in five Central Florida counties. He was an active host for visiting Rotarian guests from all parts of the world.
An avid sports fan, he was a referee for high school football and basketball, as well as umpire for local softball leagues. He was recognized as a Loyal Season Ticket Holder for the Houston Astros for 30 years with his original seats right behind their dugout. Until this winter he still played and managed softball with the Osceola Senior Softball League.
Pete began his career as the Executive Vice President of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce, then in 1978 became the first Executive Director of Tourism for the Kissimmee/ St. Cloud Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 1982 he left the Visitors Bureau to become the Corporate Marketing Director and then General Manager for three different Hilton Inns in Orlando. From 1986-88 he was the Regional Franchise Director for Quality Inns International, and from 1988-89 for Howard Johnson Franchise Systems. He was a finalist for the position of State Director of Tourism under Jeb Bush.
Some of his many recognitions and awards include: Florida Tourism Appreciation Award presented by Governor Bob Graham in 1981, Osceola County Distinguished Leadership Award 1995 by Leadership Osceola, “Pete Edwards Day” in Osceola County Proclamation presented by the Osceola County Commission 1997, Jewel of Rotary for Outstanding Service Above Self, Osceola County’s Outstanding Young Man, Great Florida Shoot Out Hall of Fame Induction, Rotarian of the Year, Distinguished Leadership Finalist by Valencia Community College, and Florida “State of the Arts” Award to name a few.
Pete is survived by wife, Felicia (Monell), three sons Cory Edwards (Inés) residing in Zaragoza, Spain, Brian Edwards (Shasta), and Matthew Edwards (Krystyn) residing in St. Cloud, Florida, and six grandchildren, Corwin, Cadence, Nicolas, Lily, Daniel, and Ruby. He is also survived by his niece Elizabeth Edwards Kirrane (Bill) residing on Long Island and their two children Amelia and Liam. Pete was preceded in death by his parents Loraine Andrews (Curtis) and John Paul Edwards, brothers John Michael Edwards and Tony Andrews.
Funeral services will be handled by Conrad & Thompson.
A Celebration of Life service will be on Saturday, May 4, 2019 from 2-4 pm at the Barney Veal Center/Osceola County Council on Aging, 700 Generation Point, Kissimmee.
His life motto was the Rotarian motto: “Service Above Self” In lieu of flowers please send donations to any of the following organizations below in which he spent over 25 years serving. Please write Pete’s name in the memo so they can provide a list of donors.
“The Rotary Foundation”
Make checks payable to “The Rotary Foundation”
Rotary Club of Kissimmee
PO Box 422185
Kissimmee, FL 34742-2185
“Community Vision Inc”
Make checks payable to “Community Vision Inc”
Mail to: Donna Sines, 704 Generation Point, Kissimmee, FL 34744
The Education Foundation of Osceola County for student scholarships.
Donations can be made either by credit card or by check to the Education Foundation.
Credit card donations are accepted through their website www.FoundationOsceola.org
by clicking on the donate now button. Pete’s name will be added to the selection menu.
Make checks payable to “Education Foundation”
2310 New Beginnings Road, Ste 118
Kissimmee FL 34744