MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Jack Edwards of Alabama, who served 10 terms in Congress and was in the first wave of Deep South Republicans, died Friday. He was 91.
His family said through a spokesman that Edwards died at his home in Fairhope after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Edwards served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1985. He was one of five Republican congressmen from Alabama elected in 1964 as GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater carried several southern states. The 1964 race was a harbinger of things to come as the onetime Solid South grew to become dominated by Republicans.
Edwards served under five presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Ronald Reagan during his time in Congress. He was vice-chairman of the Republican leadership. He became the ranking Republican on the defense subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee. He was known as a strong supporter of Reagan’s military buildup, the governor’s office said. He also oversaw funding for the rebuilding of Alabama’s Dauphin Island bridge after a devastating 1979 hurricane.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Edwards served his state and nation with the highest degree of integrity and he was respected on both sides of the political aisle.
“He was the epitome of a true public servant and was the ultimate statesman for Alabama. Our state has lost one of our finest,” Ivey said in a statement.
In a statement released by his family, they said Edwards described his hopes for a return to civility when recently asked what kind of world he would like to leave his great-grandchildren.
“My hope is that my great grandchildren will grow up in a country where civility will have been returned to common discourse and to the efforts to solve the country’s problems,” Edwards said according to the family statement.
The governor said flags at the Alabama Capitol will be placed at half-staff in his honor.