Friends remember Fallon policeman for community spirit, family
Jerry Edwards described as a role model for many
Longtime friend Darin Hammer said at a recent memorial service Jerry Edwards had a special place in his heart for the Fallon community and his family.
Edwards, a beloved policeman who retired from the Fallon Police Department three years ago, died unexpectedly on May 10 at the age of 55. Even when he left the department in 2017, Hammer expressed his surprise.
“He retired too soon, but Jerry thought it was the right time to do it,” Hammer said. “He really enjoyed being in law enforcement.”
Almost 200 people attended the memorial service at Laura Mills Park earlier this month with enforcement officers from the Fallon Police Department, Naval Air Station Fallon and the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office. Eureka County Sheriff Jesse Watts, who personally knows the Edwards’ family, also attended the service.
Retiring in his early 50s from FPD, Hammer figured, would give Edwards more time with his family and hobbies and also give him less stress. Edwards also took a full-time job as office manager for K D Automotive. Hammer said Edwards had established roots in Fallon and had a deep affinity for the community and its people. He felt working at K D was a good fit for retirement.
“A lot of people knew him from the community,” Hammer said.
Ken Dixon, co-owner of K D Automotive, said he was surprised upon learning of Edwards’ death.
“It was a total shocker,” he said. “I never thought I would hear that.”
Dixon said Edwards knew how to interact with customers and took over the office functions from him.
“He was happy,” Dixon said. “It was definitely a change of pace but a challenge. It will be impossible to find someone who did what he did.”
Hammer’s friendship with Edwards goes back 30 years before both men entered law enforcement.
“I was working in my family’s pawn shop when Jerry came in,” Hammer recalled. “We talked about golf and our lives. He spoke very highly about his family and a lady named Tammy (his wife).”
Eventually, Edwards decided on a major career change from the private sector and entered enforcement where he became a deputy for the Eureka County Sheriff’s Office. Hammer also entered law enforcement after graduating from the academy, first serving as a deputy in Battle Mountain for one year and then accepting a juvenile probation position in Fallon.
“He loved his brothers and sisters (in law enforcement) … and he loved his job but never forgot where he was at,” Hammer said, adding Edwards’ heart was big. “He took me under his wing, and I took him under my wing.”
Hammer never questioned their friendship, whether sitting on a rock fishing or walking the hills of central Nevada. He told a story of when he and Edwards were hunting in Eureka County, and each man headed a different direction.
“I heard someone yelling for help,” Hammer said.
Hammer thought it was Edwards and looked for him. When they rendezvoused with each other, Hammer discovered it wasn’t Edwards needing assistance. Likewise, Hammer knew Edwards would do the same, and look for him if he had heard yelling.
“If I ever went down, he’d throw me over his shoulder and carry me out. That’s a true brother,” Hammer said.
FPD Capt. Chris Alexander said both he and Edwards joined the force at about the same time.
“He was always fun to work with,” Alexander said.
Alexander said his colleague was an accomplished hunter and fisherman who liked the Eureka area. He considered Edwards skilled at diffusing situations as an officer.
“He was very light-hearted with a lot of stuff,” Alexander remembers. “He could relate to people and their lives.”
Alexander said Edwards worked in investigations and became the department’s photographer for special events, running around snapping numerous photos at events such as the city’s annual 9/11 ceremony.
Three of Edwards’ adult children spoke at the memorial service. Patrick Edwards served in the Army for eight years, but then he referred back to a time after he had left the military, divorced and was making bad decisions. Jerry, though, came into Patrick’s room and told his son he was going to talk “at” his son.
Edwards was there to help his son overcome his problems.
Patrick paused for a few seconds.
“You are my hero, and you are the strongest man I know,” he said of his father, who told Patrick he wasn’t going to allow his son to hurt himself. “I didn’t realize the pain I was causing that day.”
Patrick said his father was the type of man who never judged. He said Jerry had a way of pulling people in.
“He was a rock for most of us,” Patrick said. “He was a role model for many. He cared and loved everyone like family.”
Over the years, Patrick said his father enjoyed watching people improve themselves and make changes in their lives. He said his father married the love of his life, Tammy, in 1994.
Of all the children, DeWayne followed in his father’s footsteps. He was working the mines in Eureka County, but he decided he’d rather be in law enforcement. He completed his POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) in 2019 and worked for the Eureka County Sheriff’s Office before accepting a position with the Fallon Police Department.
“In some ways he contributed to us all,” DeWayne said. “What stood out with me it didn’t matter who you are.”
DeWayne said his tribute to his father is to be the “best person you can to yourself” and to also bring out the best from those around you.
Mandy (Amanda) said she rekindled her relationship with her father. She promised him she would be on the “straight and narrow.”
“I had been in a dark place for a long time,” she said.
Mandy said there’s never a day or second that goes by when she doesn’t think about her father: “He was my rock. I want to say I really, really miss him.”