Involved parent described as quiet family man

Staff Reports

A Columbus man who died in a workplace shooting in Seymour was described as a kind, involved parent in the education and extracurricular activities of his school-aged children.

Ward R. Edwards, 49, died from gunshot wounds Thursday morning at the Cummins Technical Center in Seymour.

An example of Edwards’ involvement with his children was taking time off from work last year so he could be a chaperone for an overnight school field trip to Chicago, said Chad Phillips, a district administrator with Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. who got to know the Edwards family when he was principal at Columbus Signature Academy — Lincoln.

The Edwards family includes Ward’s wife, Nancy Edwards, a local preschool teacher; and their two children, Emma, a seventh-grader at Central Middle School, and Eli, a sophomore at Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech and Columbus East high schools, Phillips said.

“I can’t reiterate enough at how kind of a person he was,” said Phillips, who was an elementary principal for both children. “If his kids are any indicator of his character, he was a terrific and wonderful human being.”

Nancy Edwards also has been an involved parent, Phillips said.

As an example, Phillips said she volunteered to be a basketball scorekeeper while her daughter attended games as a cheerleader — even though she didn’t know much at all about basketball.

“Any kid at the school would know Mrs. Edwards and would recognize her and her entire family as being kind and helpful and hard-working,” Phillips said.

Phillips said he had spoken to several teachers Thursday who had taught the Edwards children.

The Edwards family lives on the southwest side of Columbus between Interstate 65 and Terrace Lake Road.

“Our heart just breaks for this family,” Phillips said. “Our CSA family wants to make sure they know if they need anything, we will be there for them.”

Grief counselors will be on hand today at CSA-New Tech, Columbus East and Central Middle School, Superintendent John Quick said.

Church connections

Family members also are getting strong support from their church family at First Presbyterian Church in Columbus, the Rev. Felipe Martinez said.Nancy Edwards is a part-time teacher at Wee Care Childcare, which is a part of the preschool operated by the First Presbyterian.Martinez spent time with the children and their mother at the church Thursday.

“We surround them with our prayers, and I know the community will as well,” Martinez said.

The church also will be looking for ways to support Nancy Edwards’ colleagues on the preschool staff today.

Eli is a youth elder at the church, and Emma is active in the youth group and the worship life of the congregation, Martinez said.

Their father had been a ruling elder at the church.

Nancy Edwards’ parents, Kent and Edith Ziegler, have been members at First Presbyterian for more than 60 years, he said.

“It’s a very caring family,” said Martinez, who visited the Zieglers at their home Thursday.

He said Nancy Edwards also is involved in the Mothers of PreSchoolers group at Grace Lutheran in Columbus.

Friends react

Jerry Thomas of Columbus, a retired Cummins mechanical engineer, had gotten to know the Edwards family through Eli’s involvement with the Hoosier Hills Rifle and Pistol Club of Morgantown.Thomas said he’s been mentoring Eli for the past five years in international air-rifle competition.Thomas said he had gotten to know Ward Edwards better since the first of this year when the two of them traveled to Ohio — five hours each way — to purchase competition shooting gear for Eli.

“He was taking a real serious interest in Eli’s activities,” Thomas said of Ward Edwards, describing him as a quiet, reserved man who was mild-mannered and polite.

Despite his son’s significant skills in the sport, Ward Thompson had no interest himself in recreational shooting, Thomas said.

That Ward Edwards would be killed in an shooting was described by Thomas as “a horrible coincidence.”

Ian McGiffen, a colleague of Ward Edwards at the Seymour Engine Plant, was in a nearby conference room on the building’s second floor when his friend was killed Thursday morning.

“Our group lost a great friend and team leader. Cummins lost years of performance knowledge from a very dedicated employee. But saddest yet, a wife lost a husband and two kids lost a dad,” McGiffen, of Scipio, wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon to The Republic. “He was the nicest guy you will ever meet. Heaven received a great man today.”