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Hall of Famer George Edwards dies at 85

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George Edwards, the longtime tire industry veteran who helped found the predecessor to the American Retreaders Association (ARA), died at his home in Fayetteville, W.V., on Monday, Feb. 19, "after a long and gracious acceptance of Alzheimer's disease," according to his obituary. He was 85.

"George so loved the industry, and I would give him his briefcase even as Alzheimer's impaired his memory and body, and (he) would sit and spend time leafing through the articles and papers," said his wife of 28 years, Margo Edwards. "Tires were his passion, and that never changed."

Born March 6, 1921, in Denver, Colo., he was the son of the late Wilfred and Esther Edwards.

He served in the United States Army Air Corps 90th Bombardment Group (heavy) in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

After his return, Edwards left Denver to join Connare Manufacturing Co., one of the nation's largest passenger tire retreading plants, in Manchester, N.H., in the early 1950s.

Edwards was a primary figure in establishing the Central States Retreaders' Association, and was named managing director of the regional group in 1954. He also helped found its successor, the ARA, which gave a voice to independent retreaders nationwide.

His accomplishments as executive director of the ARA include the following:

* establishing the Louisville Retreader's Conference and Trade Show, which became one of the world's largest specialized trade shows for the industry.

* initiating the "Unit Value System" for evaluating retread production, a bead-to-bead measuring system for fitting tire to matrix and adhesion tests for retreads.

* campaigning successfully for independent retreaders to have the right to bid for U.S. Department of Defense contracts.

He also helped resolve the much publicized charges of patent infringement by Ralph Reading that threatened all U.S. retreaders.

In 1957, while still in Manchester, he began publishing a technical journal for the tire retreading and repair industry, the Retreader's Journal. The monthly publication achieved a national and international circulation of more than 3,000 subscribers.

Edwards sold the publication to Ed Wagner in 1968. At the same time, Wagner took over as executive director of the ARA.

"George was looked upon as a tire expert in both new tires and retreading," said Wagner, who worked closely with Edwards for many years.

In 1968, Edwards helped found International Rubber Industries, which produced and manufactured tire retreading equipment and rubber mixing and extruding equipment. The company also tested new tires for the U.S. government, and manufactured the world's first all-steel automobile car tire.

In the twilight of his 40-year career, Edwards, with the help of his extensive engineering and manufacturing background, became one of the nation's leading tire failure analysts and an expert witness on product liability litigation.

In 1996 Edwards was elected into the Tire Industry Association Hall of Fame.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Stephanie. In addition to Margo, he is survived by three daughters, four stepchildren, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Oak Hill, with Father Paul Yuenger officiating. Friends may call one hour prior before service at the church.

Memorial mass will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, in Louisville, Ky., Edwards' home for 40 years, at Holy Spirit on Lexington Road with Father Thomas Boland officiating.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to Hospice of Southern West Virginia, PO Box 1472, Beckley, WV 25802 or the Altzheimer's Association, 1111 Lee St. East, Charleston, WV 25301.

Online condolences may be sent at www.tyreefuneralhome.com.

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