Thomas J. Edwards Sr.

November 15, 1925 ‒ December 13, 2015

Gambier, Ohio

Thomas J. Edwards, Dean of Students Emeritus at Kenyon College, died Sunday, December 13, 2015, at the Ohio Eastern Star Home in Mount Vernon. He was 90 and a longtime resident of Gambier. Born on November 15, 1925, in Altoona, Pennsylvania, to the late Thomas and Emma (Williams) Edwards, he grew up in York, Pennsylvania. He was educated at Springfield College, Massachusetts, and earned a master’s degree at the University of Toledo. For six years prior to his arrival at Kenyon Tom was physical director of the Toledo Central YMCA. He was head swimming coach at Kenyon College from 1954 to 1964, leading the swimmers to ten conference championships. In 1957, he was named Kenyon College’s dean of students, a post he held for 33 years, until his retirement in 1990.

Among various honors, he was recognized by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators in 1985 with the Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Service as a Dean, by Kenyon with the William A. Long Memorial Award in 1990, and by its alumni with the Greenslade Award in 1997. In 1991, he became the first administrator to be inducted into the Kenyon Athletic Association Hall of Fame. The same year, the College inaugurated the Thomas J. Edwards Scholarship, created with an endowed fund established by alumni on the occasion of his retirement.

On the announcement of his retirement, his long and distinguished service was acclaimed by acting president Reed S. Browning as a model of dedication to Kenyon. “His work on behalf of students, in all aspects of their lives at the College, has in large measure shaped the Kenyon we know today.” At his final Commencement in 1990, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by Kenyon. The citation by Perry C. Lentz read, in part, “Villager and sportsman, coach of swimming and founder of dynasties, dean of students and defender of the College, witness to its history and keeper of its secrets: at no graduation in Kenyon’s history has a man receiving an honorary degree known as much about the inner life of this institution.”

In 2009, the Kenyon administrative building at 100 Gaskin Avenue was named Edwards House in his honor. Over the years, he developed many professional and personal relationships with colleagues and students alike, who valued his wise counsel, compassionate support, and his gentle humor. He was also involved in the larger Knox County community, serving as a past president of the Homestead Club and was especially active in the YMCA of Mount Vernon, serving on its board of directors.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years Gloria Reiss Edwards, son Thomas J. Edwards, Jr. (Nancy Hunter) of Athens, GA, daughters Nancy E. Edwards (John Maruszczak) of Fort Worth, TX, Dr. Anne L. Edwards of Charleston, SC, and granddaughter Laura Maruszczak of NYC.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Thomas J. Edwards Scholarship Fund at Kenyon College, Office of Development, 105 Chase Avenue, Gambier, OH 43022-9623 or to a charity of your choice.

A tribute to Dean Thomas Edwards will be held on Friday, May 27, 2016 at 3 p.m. in Rosse Hall on the campus of Kenyon College in Gambier.

The Dowds-Snyder Funeral Home in Mount Vernon is honored to serve the family of Thomas Edwards; there will be no calling hours. Interment will be in the College cemetery.


To send the family a condolence online visit:

  • Dear, Gloria, Tom, Nancy and Anne,

    We are saddened to hear of the passing of Tom.

    Tom was a friend, mentor and role model. He has had an immense and immeasurable influence on so many Kenyon students ( in my case, starting in high school) that he will be fondly remembered around the nation and world.

    Please know that we are thinking about you and that Liz and I are disappointed that we are not in Gambier at this time.

    The Ralston’s and Hillier’s

  • Gloria and family, The community, Kenyon, and even the world has lost a great man. He was truly admired by so many. Even our granddaughter who became a friend of Tom’s when she had the Gambier paper route. He was so good to Jessica and she truly adored him. This shows how Tom could reach out to all.

    We send our sincere condolences to Gloria and all of Tom’s family.

    Dick and Frankie Baer

  • Dear Gloria and family, “If I could write for you a rainbow, I surely would. Since I cannot write for you a rainbow, I send my love and condolences to you, Gloria, and the Family.