SHIELDS, Edith Edwards
died peacefully on December 24, 2018, with her family standing by. She is remembered as a loving, caring, and generous wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. Her family knew and valued her quick wit, which, combined with her subtle projection of affection, conveyed acceptance, appreciation, and love. She was born in New York City on January 3, 1936. She lived in the town of Bayside, Queens County, NY, and went through high school there. She attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and was an apprentice nurse in Bellevue hospital in Manhattan. Edie was active in the Episcopal church; as a girl, she was an aide to sisters in a monastery, and later in life, she was part of an outreach ministry that prepared and served meals in a men's shelter. She left New York in 1955 to marry Alan Edwards, a career Air Force officer. Their marriage lasted 37 years, until Al's death in 1992. They lived on San Francisco Bay and the Chesapeake Bay, as well as places in-between. Edie made homes in many cities, and in each, she became known as a happy, friendly, humorous, and open-hearted friend and hostess. Many of the acquaintances she made during those years remained as friends to the end of her life. Al and Edie were also great travelers; they visited Caribbean sites often and made a long trek through Hong Kong. Edie was no stranger to hard work. After Al's retirement from the Air Force, they settled in Annandale, Virginia. Edie bought a small custom furniture factory and turned it into a going concern. She made it a family affair by hiring her children into the business. After they both retired, Edie and Al moved to a fine waterfront home near Annapolis, Maryland. They found great satisfaction in the home, the location, the neighbors, and particularly in the opportunity that they had to sponsor Midshipmen from the nearby U.S. Naval Academy. They did this for many years, opening their home and their hearts to these young men and women, and making friendships that remain to this day. It was said that Edie never met a stranger. She was a great hostess, renowned for her ability to extend her hospitality to meet the occasion. Acting out the parable of the loaves and the fishes, she could expand a meal for a few into a meal for many. She even managed to expand their three-bedroom house to accommodate dozens of guests, using tents on the lawn if necessary. In true Edie fashion, all of this was done on short notice and without fuss; she remained calm, unhurried, and gracious throughout. She also had a wry sense of humor. Responding to the many people who were drawn to their home, she posted an enigmatic sign: Guests of guests may not bring guests. She particularly enjoyed watching the youngest visitors, still counting on their fingers, working through this logic. After Al's death, Edie continued to make a home away from home for many. She became a "jack of all trades," maintaining the house, fixing the dock and the boat, and mowing the lawn. Edie's kindness extended past the people in her life, as she also loved dogs. Her big Golden Retriever, Maxxie, was not only her favorite, but a favorite of the neighborhood. She later came to love her black Lab, Nellie, who is still with us. Additionally, Edie was an avid reader and worker of crossword puzzles. She left her family with a partially completed puzzle to work. In 2003, Edie moved to Tucson, where her late son, Jim and his family lived. She established another beautiful home on the outskirts of Tucson. Here, she renewed a long-standing friendship with William Shields, also retired from the Air Force. Edie and Al met Bill and his wife, Ruthmary, in 1962, in Stanford, California, and they remained friends. Edie and Bill were married in 2005. They lived in Edie's house in Tucson until moving to a retirement community in 2016. They both loved to travel, making several visits to Europe and driving around much of the American West. Edie was particularly fond of Northern Italy, Bavaria, and the Bernese Alps. When queried about how long she and Bill had been married, they would provide the current number but would then, jokingly, often add, "It seems longer." So it did, considering the head-start that their 43-year friendship had given them. Edie is survived by her husband, Bill; daughter, Karen Varholak (John); son, Richard; daughter-in-law, Susan Edwards and grandchildren, Kyle Varholak Jimenez (Ciro), Shae Varholak, Krista Edwards Carter (Jake), Brian Edwards, Kerri Edwards Wagner (Andrew) and Taylor Edwards. She was also blessed by great-grandchildren, Elena Jimenez, John-Aris Jimenez, Brad Dunn, Layla Dunn, and Shane Carter. A Memorial Service for Edith will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, January 19, 2019, at St. Albans Episcopal Church, 3738 Old Sabino Canyon Road (off Sabino Canyon Road, just north of River Road). In lieu of flowers, she may be honored by contributions to her favorite charities, Casa de Los Ninos, Community Food Bank, and the Primavera Foundation. Arrangements by EAST LAWN PALMS MORTUARY.