Edward Joseph Hedrick

  • Born: November 18, 1931
  • Died: January 13, 2018
  • Location: Columbia, Maryland

Storke Funeral Home

111 Main Street
P.O. Box 920
Bowling Green, VA 22427

Tel. (804) 633-5661

Tribute & Message From The Family

Retired First Sergeant (Promotable) Edward Joseph Hedrick, 86, formerly of El Reno, Okla., passed away on January 13, 2018 at Harford Memorial Hospital in Harve de Grace, Md.

Born in Geary, Okla. on November 18, 1931 to William Jefferson and Edna Mae (Hall) Hedrick, he was the eighth of 14 children. Raised during the The Great Depression and the 1930s Dust Bowl, Edward was only four when his father died, requiring him to help supplement the family's income. As a young boy, he delivered ice in Oklahoma City and took in laundry with his mother and siblings. As a teen, he worked as a ranch hand, a horse breeder and trainer, and even rode the rodeo circuit as a bull rider before finding his first and second careers in the U.S. Army and as an educator at El Reno Public Schools and Redlands Community College in El Reno, Okla.

On March 18, 1948, Ed joined the U.S. Army at 16 and served for over 21 years. During this time he completed two combat tours in Korea and and two combat tours in Vietnam, achieving the rank of 1SG(P). His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal (with bronze star device), Korea Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal (with palm ribbon), The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Medal, The Joint Meritorious Unit Award (with one bronze oak leaf cluster), and was inducted into The Ancient Order of Saint Barbara for Field Artillerymen. He retired on December 31, 1969 and, over 12 years later, was selected and activated to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Retiree Counsel for a term of four years, then asked to extend for a second tour.

While stationed at Fort McNair, Md., 1SG(P) Hedrick met his wife, Airman Second Class Marion Martha Welenz, who was serving in the U.S. Air Force at the White House. The two were married on January 16, 1960 in Ansonia, Conn., and together they raised five children.

Upon his Army retirement in 1969, Ed settled his family in Banner, Okla., and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Central State University in Edmond, Okla., after which he was offered a teaching position in the El Reno Public Schools. He later returned to Central State University where he received a Master's Degree in Education, followed by a Master's Degree in Public School Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla., and a Master's Degree in Agency and Secondary Counseling from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla.

Ed was passionate about working in his community, especially as a mentor to young people. He was a 32nd degree York Rite Master Mason, A.F.& A.M,. and served as Worshipful Master in Munich, Germany and twice in El Reno, Okla., where he was a lifetime member of El Reno Masonic Lodge #50. His many appointments in the Masonic Fraternity include serving as District 20 Deputy Grand Master of Masons in Okla.; District Governor, Shawnee-Arapaho District, Order of DeMolay in Okla.; Rainbow Dad of M. Alice Miller Assembly No. 11, International Order of Rainbow for Girls in El Reno; Worthy Patron of El Reno Chapter #27, Order of Eastern Star; and Grand Representative to Minnesota, Oklahoma Grand Chapter, Order of Eastern Star. In his community, he served the Canadian County District 21 Public Schools as President of Banner Public School Board; the Canadian County Democratic Party where he served four of his eight years as Chairman and Delegate to the National Convention in Minneapolis; and Key Club Advisor for El Reno High School. As a retired service member, he was appointed to the Commanding General's Retiree Council at Ft. Sill, Okla., and served 46 years as a Veterans Service Officer for Veterans Benefits.

Ed was preceded in death by his parents; nine siblings (Cecil Morris, Opal Myers, Doyce Hedrick, Pete Hedrick, Earl Hedrick, Geraldine Hood, Bill Hedrick, Donnie Hedrick, and Everett Hedrick); his oldest daughter, Juliana (Hedrick) Brodeur; a granddaughter, Michelle Hedrick; and a great-granddaughter, Ariyana Gordon. He is survived by his loving wife, Marion; four children (Edward Melville Hedrick, William Jefferson Hedrick II, Catherine Hedrick-Armstrong, and Anton Joseph Welenz Hedrick); four siblings (Shirley White, Jim Hedrick, Coni Cutler, and Mary Whitby); 17 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, and a loving extended family of nieces, nephews and cousins spanning five generations. He will be deeply missed by his former students and staff at El Reno High School and Redlands Community College where his endless stories and humorous anecdotes will live on through their memories and retelling.

Among his greatest contributions were his intense love of family, his dedication to mentoring young people, his pride in every small accomplishment of those dear to him, and his prolific storytelling. He will be remembered for his quirky sense of humor and one liners like, "Why confuse a good story with facts," "You do good work, Maynard," and "Edgier than a lizard on a hot rock."

1SG(P) Hedrick will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. with a combined Military and Masonic Funeral presented by the Caisson Platoon at Arlington National Cemetery and the Grand Lodge of Maryland, A.F. & A.M. The burial date is still pending.

Due to his passion for supporting women in the military, the family is requesting donations, in lieu of flowers, be made to the Women in Military Service Memorial in memory of 1SG(P) Edward J. Hedrick at Dept 560, Washington, DC 20042-0560 or at https://www.womensmemorial.org/.