'Kind,' 'smiling,' and 'a true friend' were just some of the words people have used to describe David Edwards, 45, a president of the Northalsted Area Merchants Association and owner of the upscale piano bars Gentry on Halsted and Gentry on State. Edwards passed away Feb. 27 after a battle with lung cancer.
Gloria Shoff, executive director of the Northalsted Area Merchants Association, described Edwards ( who served as president of the group from 1997-2001 and secretary up until his death ) as someone who 'had a twinkle in his eye. David enjoyed life. He was also like a sea of reason and calmness.' Richard Heimerdinger, a longtime bartender who works at Gentry on State, said he will miss Edwards' smile and inimitable laugh. Heimerdinger added that Edwards 'was one of the nicest guys you could ever work for. He was incredibly easygoing even in the face of adversity.'
Perhaps the person who had the most insight into Edwards, however, was Larry Wolfe, who is general manager of Gentry and who was Edwards' roommate. Wolfe took a few moments to describe Edwards's last days.
Windy City Times: When was David diagnosed with cancer?
Larry Wolfe: Feb. 16, 2004. He went through the radiation and didn't suffer any side effects; he was almost inhuman. However, once the tumors came back and didn't respond to anything, the attack was pretty rapid. He didn't have the death that I was afraid of. I thought it might be a long, miserable, painful death. But he was not bedridden; he was able to walk the entire time. I didn't have to really take care of him; he was coherent.
I came to work Friday [ Feb. 25 ] ; someone was with him because David was afraid of falling or that something would go wrong with his oxygen mask. About 10 o'clock I received a call that he was having trouble getting enough oxygen. When I got home, it was obvious that we were in trouble because he had three oxygen hoses on him and he still wasn't [ breathing fully ] .
There were no more treatments for him at this point. David told the doctor that he wanted to go the hospital, be able to breathe, and that he just wanted to go peacefully. We hadn't really discussed death the whole time—but when he said that, our eyes met and it reality hit me. So we went to Swedish Covenant Hospital and got David into a room early Saturday morning. ...
On Sunday, he wasn't completely coherent but he was talking. He had many visitors that day. When I got home Sunday night, there was a message to call the hospital. They said that things were really not going well. Before I could leave the house, the doctor called and said that David was gone.
[ David's passing ] was so strange. He was not as mobile as he'd always been but his mind was always there.
WCT: How are you?
LW: I'm still in shock. However, when I heard that David was gone, I automatically kicked into work mode and didn't get emotional. ... David wanted to be cremated. As for a memorial service, it's scheduled for the first Sunday in April. It'll be a celebration of his life; that's how he'd want it to be. To be 45 and find out your life is ending? His reaction was that he lived a good life and had no regrets. He didn't feel cheated or bitter. However, I think I would. [ Smiles. ]
WCT: How long did you know him?
LW: It feels like all my life. I'd known him since the late '80s when he bought Gentry on Rush and I worked at Heaven. I worked against him. Then, Heaven closed and he offered me a job. We were roommates for about five years. Then I moved away for four years and then came back. He offered me a place and there I stayed.
WCT: This is a tough question to ask ... but what do you think you'll miss most about David?
LW: Everything. The security of knowing he was there. Most people wouldn't believe it, but he never carried me or paid my way. However, there was security in knowing he was there. He had the answer to any problem I had; he just knew what to do or who to call. I guess I'll have to grow up now. The Peter Pan in me died with him, but it's not a bad thing that I have to grow up. We were not romantically involved, but we completed each other.
See www.rememberingdavid.com .