Memorial service held for well-known civic activist

Marvin Edwards passed away Saturday at age 96

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A memorial service was held Friday for a well-known civic activist whose role in Jacksonville politics began in the 1950s and, before that, served in America's original spy agency.

Marvin Edwards passed away Saturday. He was 96 years old. 

Edwards spent decades fighting for the people of Jacksonville. Prior to that, he flew missions with the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, during World War II.

READ: Marvin Edwards Obituary

"Dad saw Ella Fitzgerald sing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem when she was 17. He flew a wooden plane over Germany during World War II," his son Douglas Edwards said during the hourlong memorial. "He fought corruption in Jacksonville's city government and won an ethics award for doing it from Jacksonville's city government."

Special forces veterans were at the service to pay tribute to the WWII veteran. 

I met Edwards in October when he told me about his time with the OSS.

He told me the main risk he had during WWII "was working for the OSS."

He also shared stories of his time flying secret missions. 

"They gave us ... what’s known as poison pills. If we were shot down and alive and surrounded by Germans, we should take the pills so they couldn't put us through an inquisition."

Edwards will receive a Congressional gold medal for his time as a real-life spy, and his family will receive it on his behalf.

But Friday's service provided a chance to hear from family about a man who fought for the little guy as an activist in Jacksonville's City Hall before many residents were born.

"He lived a long life, and he accomplished a lot," his son Jeffrey Edwards said. "We're really proud of him."

The Congressional gold medal will be awarded next month in Washington, D.C. His family plans to go accept it in his honor, and News4Jax hopes to travel along with them. 

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