Duke Energy names Fort Mill man top volunteer of 2013

joverman@fortmilltimes.comDecember 17, 2013 

— If Bob Edwards had any inkling that a news story would be written about him, he likely would try to stop it. According to leaders of the many groups he volunteers for, Edwards would rather the light shine on others, not himself.

So, we just won’t tell him.

Edwards, a Fort Mill resident for more than 40 years, was named Duke Energy’s Volunteer of the Year last month.

“He is so anxious not to draw attention to himself. He just does things because it’s the right thing to do, which I think is the best kind of person,” said Dan Holloway, pastor of Unity Presbyterian Church.

Edwards, a retired engineer, volunteers at Duke Energy as well as around the Fort Mill community. A member of Unity Presbyterian, he serves as an elder and the chair of the Worship and Music Team. He has also been on several foreign mission trips to Honduras with church groups.

Outside of church, he is active with the Fort Mill Community Playhouse, volunteering his time and engineering background to help with set design as well as other Playhouse needs. He also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.

Edwards has also spent 30 years as a volunteer for the Fort Mill High School Marching Band Pit Crew, a group that loads and hauls equipment for the band.

That position began when his oldest daughter, Dawn, entered the marching band. A few years later, his middle daughter, Christine, joined the band, and then his youngest, Jill. When the daughters had all graduated, Edwards stayed on to help the group out.

“He is the heart and soul of the pit crew. He is the driving force. He comes up with the design, and he comes up with things from scratch and builds them, and knows how it works with the budget,” said pit crew chief Steve Edwards (no relation).

Props for marching bands have to meet height limitations or the band will be disqualified. They also have to be able to withstand wind force, all types of weather and break down easily to transport. With Bob Edwards engineering the design, there is no need to worry about the props falling over mid-show, said band director John Pruitt.

“His designs are lightweight, but sturdy,” Pruitt said. “He really brings his engineering background to bear on construction.”

His engineering skills also come in handy at the start of each season, when pit crew volunteers prepare to load large percussion instruments onto the band trailer. Edwards, using a computer aided drafting program, figures out how each instrument will fit perfectly into the trailer to pack it as efficiently as possible.

He’ll also replace broken latches on the band room door; repair the frame on an aging marimba.

“Anytime we need something, he volunteers,” Pruitt said. “Bands attract dedicated individuals but I’ve never seen the likes of Bob. He’s in his own league.”

After Edwards’ daughters graduated from high school and the band program, he spent 16 years more volunteering with no child in the band until 2010, when his first grandchild, Alex, joined the program and Edwards became a “band parent” once again.

Last fall, two more grandsons joined the marching band.

But Edwards doesn’t volunteer because his grandchildren participate, said Dawn Rackley, Edwards’ oldest daughter, he does it because he loves to serve.

“It’s about service. He’s passionate about the band but if it wasn’t the band it would be something else. His service to others has been important to my kids, too. They understand they need to do things for other people, and he started that,” she said.

His service isn’t complete, she added.

“He has so much more to do. He’s not done yet. He has more people to help,” she said.

Jenny Overman •  803-547-2353

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