By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Rev. Craig B. Edwards was a gentle giant.
Rev. Mr. Edwards
Well over 6 feet tall, he had an imposing physical presence. But his warm, compassionate voice conveyed his commitment to spreading spirituality.
When he opened his mouth to speak, listeners were immediately put at ease.
The Rev. Mr. Edwards, pastor of Consolation Baptist Church in Mount Auburn, was named pastor of the year by the Cincinnati Baptist Ministers Conference in 1998.
The Westwood resident died Monday of an apparent heart attack at Bethesda North Hospital. He had collapsed earlier while swimming with his nephews. He was 53.
The Rev. Mr. Edwards' style was understated.
"He worked in the community but was a kind of a quiet community activist," said Jon Patterson, chief operating officer of Thompson, Hall & Jordan Funeral Home, for whom the Rev. Mr. Edwards worked as a pre-arrangement counselor.
He was passionate about convincing African-American youths that they were not doomed to a future of drug addiction or jail cells, according to his daughter, Letitia Edwards of Columbus.
"He was a best friend to the youth of the church," she said. He tried to convince them they "could do whatever their heart inspires them to do."
His other daughter, Kathy Edwards, also of Columbus, said that "every single Sunday morning he would go down to the Drop-Inn Center, pick up the homeless, take them to church, feed them, give them toiletries and take them back. That was his passion. That's what he enjoyed doing."
The Rev. Mr. Edwards graduated from Withrow High School, where he was class president and homecoming king, in 1968.
He went on to receive a bachelor's degree in psychology from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., in 1972 and to graduate from Cincinnati Temple Bible College.
A certified financial planner and an insurance agent, he was president of Edwards Enterprises and Financial Services and worked with the Outlook Group, a funeral pre-arrangement organization.
He was also a member of the Cincinnati Baptist Ministers Conference, for whom he coordinated an annual tent revival, as well as a founding member of the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky African-American Chamber of Commerce.
The Rev. Mr. Edwards had a black belt in karate and was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
In addition to his two daughters, survivors include his wife, Lillie Edwards; a son, Robert Edwards of Colerain Township; two sisters, Barbara Ford of Detroit and Mary Frances Campbell of Cave City, Ky.; and three grandchildren.
Visitation is 9-11 a.m. today at Greater New Hope Baptist Church, 3655 Harvey Ave., Avondale. A Kappa Alpha Psi service is at 10 a.m. and the funeral begins at 11 a.m. at the church. Burial will be in Vine Street Hill Cemetery.
Memorials: Rev. Craig Edwards Memorial Fund, P.O. 14947, Cincinnati, OH 45250.
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