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Archive for July, 2012

How are you today? “Delicious,” said Ed Friend

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Captain Ed Friend: On Fire to Help Others!

“I don’t think I could sleep soundly at night if I couldn’t look back and think of at least one person I had helped that day.”
By Speaker Charlie Adams

Twenty years ago I was delivering an educator version of Stoke the Fire Within at an Assembly at Riley High School. I walked in the the normal way, by walking.

Not Captain Ed Friend.

He rode his rumbling Police motorcycle down the halls of the school and into the gymnasium where the students roared loudly!

I was like, “Whoa! Now THAT’S an entrance!”

Ed died in May of 2012 at the age of 75. As they say, it’s not how many years you live, but how much life you put into your years. Ed put 150 into his life. When I heard he died my immediate thought was that the world had lost a really special guy and one that was truly one of a kind.

One of the main points of Stoke the Fire Within is the lesson the gruff TV News camera man taught me in October of 1991. I wanted to do a TV News live shot at the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and reference the Rocky Balboa statue behind me during the Live report. He wouldn’t let me. He insisted we lay enough cable to start the shot at the bottom of the steps and run all 70-plus steps to the top, just like Rocky has done in the movies.

My point to audiences is you can live your life in a tripod way where you are solid and all that, or you can ‘run the steps!’

Ed Friend ran the steps.

From his distinctive bow ties to his constant smile, this man lived a truly unique life. He was a police officer here in South Bend for almost half a century. Some say he was the most popular officer of all time. He cared deeply for the elderly and for the kids. He was a driving force behind the local crimestoppers program. He developed all kinds of programs for the elderly and the kids. Ed created a TV Show called ‘Kids Adventure Zone’ that rocked on Saturday mornings! He asked me to be on it one time about 15 years ago. My father happened to be visiting so I took him to the studio. Ed made my Dad feel like a million bucks. He went out of his way to make him welcome. When the show started, Ed engaged the kids like he was a professional TV host, not just a Police Captain.

As someone that was in Television for almost a quarter of a century, I know how hard it is to produce and host programs. Ed made it look easy, and he was a policeman by trade!

Ed cared deeply about his work with the Police Department. He got married to Jane at 10:30 in the morning back on a crisp Fall morning in 1962. By 2:30 that afternoon he was back at work (she was cool with that as they were married 50 years).

In his later years he transitioned to writing about seniors. He had a way of stoking the fire within his readers by inspiring them with a regular column he created called “Friend’s Advice.” One of them got me so keyed up that I have kept it handy for years. It was about a 95 year old woman named Gladys Sheneman who was active ‘as all get-out’ as my Uncle Everett would say.

This is what Ed wrote about Gladys for his local paper the South Bend Tribune:

She just turned 95 this past July and is on the go all the time. Gladys is the den mother of momentum. Age is a numerical equation for accomplishment or despair. Retirement is a word that should never have been invented or pursued. I have known people at age 35 so bored with life that they had one foot in the grave counting the hours, days, months and years until they could retire. I have known other folks who had no plans to leave their jobs, ever.

She developed a band several years ago. She plays piano and her colleagues accompany her on quaint instruments such as the washboard, gut bucket and other novel tunemakers. The band plays at the North Liberty American Legion Post the first Friday of each month at lunch time.

Gladys has been president of Retired Neighbors and Friends for 17 years. The group meets at Pine Creek Church the second Tuesday of each month and about 150 achievers gather each month for lunch. Her band plays there, too. She has told them when they see her start “losing her marbles, tell her” but they haven’t told her yet. So, she retains the presidency.

Her faith in God is credited for her good health. She recently walked a mile-and-half trail at Potato Creek “just like when I was a girl” she told me. Her wish: When the Lord calls her home, she wants to be in her own home, no hospital!

by Ed Friend

I loved the part about Gladys telling her friends, ‘Hey, when you see me start to lose my marbles, oust me as President!” I think we should all adopt that approach…

Ed lived an extraordinary life. He became a really good public speaker, and spoke at my Church just a few years ago. Our Pastor, Dr. Pat Somers, had many conversations with him over the years. I asked him to reflect on those…

“Charlie, I was struck that Ed Friend had such a positive spirit. We spoke on several occasions about how ┬áthe essence of faith uplifts and encourages. He had a passion for people. All people, young or old, which he conveyed to our congregation when he was guest speaker a few years back. I was privileged to join him in prayer on several occasions. I will miss him.” Pastor Pat, Evangel Heights United Methodist Church
Just a few years ago, Ed reflected on his life in a lengthy interview with the South Bend Tribune, and summarized it this way:

“I don’t think I could sleep soundly at night if I couldn’t look back on the day and not be able to recall at least one person I had helped.”

Over the past few days, people have expressed how Ed made a difference:

“My Mother was a widow living in her home in So. Bend, and I was in Texas. I had heard she fell and broke her hip, and I called Ed long distance about her and he was at her house in a moment with an ambulance to get her to the hospital.”

“Ed, you will be missed, my Son Riley is a Marine today because of your suggestion when we ran into my old friend one day at the Farmers Market. He called as soon as he saw of your passing. You have had impacted so many lives!!!!! What a legacy you have left.”
“I first met Ed decades ago when my son’s bike was stolen. Ed had the bike in his office and carried it to my car. He was so nice to deal with.”

“Ed showed all of us how to live our lives and I have not lost sight of those lessons. It is not about money, it is about service and I will carry that until I die.”
“I think what I will miss most was his sparkling eyes and radiant smile when I would ask how he was doing and he smiled his smile and said “Delicious, as always!” We’ll miss you, Friend.”
The next time today that someone asks how you are doing, you may want to answer, “Delicious, as always!” Do it with a twinkle in your eyes….


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