David Richard Edwards, a Navy veteran and former state legislator, county commissioner and Douglas city councilman, died Saturday. He was 74.
He had been battling Alzheimer’s disease and suffered a stroke Dec. 26, said his daughter, Tiffany Edwards Hunt.
Edwards was a Douglas native whose career in public service began when he was caught drag racing in Casper as a teen. The judge ordered him to choose between jail or the military.
Edwards enlisted with the Navy, Edwards Hunt said.
His 30 years with the Navy included flying more than 200 combat missions in Vietnam. Once, his plane was shot down in enemy waters and he floated in the ocean for hours before his rescue. His military nickname was “Warpaint.”
His intense feelings of patriotism stayed with him for the rest of his life. In Douglas, he could be spotted driving a Cadillac Escalade with an American flag painted along the side.
After retirement, Edwards moved his family to Douglas, where his relatives homesteaded near Bedtick and Irvine roads.
He bought the historical LaBonte Hotel. He then began his service in elected office.
He served as a Douglas city councilman, elected in November 1994 and again in 1998.
He served as a Republican in the Wyoming House of Representatives (House District 6) from 2001-08.
“His infamous bill officially declaring the jackalope as the state’s mythological creature is a glimpse of his rich humor,” Edwards Hunt, a journalist in Hawaii, wrote in a tribute to her father.
He began serving on the Converse County Commission on Jan. 4, 2009, but was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and had to resign at the end of January 2012 as the disease progressed.
He is remembered for his generosity and compassion.
“I don’t think there is anyone who has been down and out in Douglas who couldn’t rely on Dave for a buck or a meal or even a place to stay,” Edwards Hunt said. “But he wasn’t a pushover, either. He helped people who were ultimately interested in helping themselves.
A funeral will be held 1 p.m. Friday at the Fort Reno Building of the Wyoming State Fairgrounds in Douglas.
Burial will follow at the Douglas Park Cemetery.
There will be a private visitation.
Editor's note: This version now reflects the correct time for a funeral on Friday. The in-print version and original online version had an incorrect time.