Rep. Joe Edwards of Haysville died from a suspected heart attack Tuesday evening.
Sally Edwards, his wife of 39 years, said he had been under a lot of stress in recent weeks because of the election. Rep. Edwards lost his bid for re-election in the Republican primary to John Whitmer on Aug. 5 after a contentious campaign.
Rep. Edwards’ death came as a shock to his friends and family.
“It was very unexpected. He was doing just fine – we were conversing when I got home from work – and he was doing just fine. He was having some problems, but he was doing all right,” his wife said. “He’ll be missed by a lot of people, a lot of friends.”
Rep. Edwards, a 60-year-old pastor and evangelist who served one term in the Kansas House, is survived by three daughters, a son and three grandchildren.
“He was an upstanding Christian man. Believed in God. He was a great husband and a good father who loved his children,” Sally Edwards said. “He was passionate and kind and cared about other people more than himself … and what he believed in, he lived it.”
Bob Dool, chairman of the Sedgwick County Republican Party, said a precinct committee would choose someone to fill the seat in District 93 temporarily before the general election. The district covers much of south Sedgwick County.
Dool mourned the loss of the Republican lawmaker. “We knew him pretty well,” he said. “The main thing I can say is that he was a hardworking guy and he’ll be missed.”
Rep. Jim Howell, R-Derby, who served with Edwards in the Legislature, called him a true friend.
“The guy was just really upbeat. You know, he had a good perspective on life. He always looked at things very pragmatically, but tried to find a positive way to look at things,” Howell said.
Howell praised Rep. Edwards for pushing a policy in his first year as a legislator that allows counties to forgive property taxes if people lose their homes in a natural disaster. The bill was meant to help Oaklawn residents after a tornado destroyed homes for more than 100 families.
He called Rep. Edwards a principled conservative who will be missed by his colleagues.
House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, issued a statement Wednesday morning that said thoughts and prayers were with Rep. Edwards’ family.
Rep. Edwards’ time in Topeka was marked in part by a 2013 incident at the Ramada Hotel near the Capitol. He reported being hit in the head and robbed while entering his hotel room; security footage did not show an attack.
Funeral arrangements are pending, according to the speaker’s office.