Edward (Fastball Eddy) Francis died Sept. 26, 2011. Ed was born in Iowa City, Iowa, on March 9, 1924, and spent his youth along the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa.
Ed attended Davenport Central High School and the University of Iowa. Because of his athletic skills, he participated in all varsity sports and was captain of the baseball, football and boxing teams. Rather than pursue his love of sports, he enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 18.
During World War II, Ed served in the American Theater Campaign and was later assigned to the U.S. Military Missions Division in the Caribbean Command. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and returned to his home, where a professional baseball contract was waiting. However, Ed accepted a position with the U.S. Department of Defense and returned as a civilian to the Panama Canal Zone. He designed and developed maintenance support programs throughout Central and South America and lectured government officials on the use of infantry weapons and deployment tactics.
In 1955, Ed left the Canal Zone and accepted a position as an Equipment Specialist for Small Arms at the U.S. Army Weapons Command. He established operational quality programs relating to U.S. military readiness at three arsenals and six army depots. Ed served as chairperson on several Blue Ribbon committees including the redesign of the M16 during the Vietnam War. Over the next 18 years, Ed was recognized throughout the industrial and military world for his engineering expertise in weapon systems from tanks to guided missiles. In 1973, Ed accepted a position to become the director of production for the U.S. Department of Defense Logistics Region located in Cleveland, Ohio.
Ed retired from federal service in 1979, ending a career that included numerous commendations and recognition awards. On the evening of his retirement, Ed was presented the prestigious "Meritorious Civilian Service Award and Medal."
In the spring of 1979, Ed was hired by Goodyear Aerospace and with wife, Kathy, moved from Cleveland to Phoenix. Those left to cherish Ed's memory will remember the lessons he taught, the gifts he generously offered and the unforgettable words and phrases they know as "Ed-isms."