May 15—TIFTON — The memory of Ernest Aaron Edwards Jr. lives on at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College after the dedication ceremony on May 11 at which the college's new Fine Arts building was renamed Edwards Hall in honor of the long-time ABAC faculty member.
"Dr. Edwards loved ABAC students, he loved music, and he delighted in stirring the hearts of others with his finely tuned talent at the keyboard," ABAC President David Bridges said. "As one who had the privilege and honor of having Dr. Edwards as an instructor when I was an ABAC student, he was a man who unselfishly served the college, the community, and the state for more than five decades."
Edwards was a faculty member at ABAC for 35 years and the organist at Tifton's First Baptist Church for more than 50 years. In 1965, Edwards was honored as the first recipient of the Distinguished Professor Award at ABAC.
Untold numbers of Georgians enjoyed Edwards' piano concerts until he died at the age of 82 on May 27, 2009. Edwards was a soloist with the University of Georgia Symphony, the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, and the Atlanta Chamber Orchestra.
A graduate of Covington High School, Edwards and his family moved to Tifton after his graduation, where he attended ABAC, completing his degree in 1945. He continued his education at UGA, where he received a bachelor of fine arts degree in Music/English in 1953 and a master of fine arts degree in 1958. In 1971, he completed his doctorate degree in interdepartmental humanities.
Edwards taught part-time at ABAC while serving as the Glee Club instructor and piano teacher at Tifton High School before assuming a full-time instructor's position at ABAC in 1957. Named to Who's Who in Music International in 1962, Edwards was a former president of the Tifton Concert Association. In 1971, he was selected as one of the Outstanding Educators in America.
After being a part of ABAC either as a student or as a faculty member for a portion of five decades, Edwards had a special appreciation for the small-town flavor of the college.
"I feel the friendliness still exists because we have a 'the door is always open' attitude toward the students," Edwards said when he retired in 1989. "The faculty and staff at ABAC really care, and it shows."
The dedication program included remarks from Bridges, Fine Arts Department Head Susan Roe, Associate Professor Emerita of English Rosalyn Ray Donaldson, Tifton's First Baptist Church pastor the Rev. Wayne Roe, and ABAC Director of Public Relations Emeritus Michael D. Chason. Jennifer Huang, an assistant professor of piano, also performed a piano tribute to Edwards.