The Heart of Kernersville: Ed Beiles

By NJ Clausen

The month of November often brings family and friends together for Thanksgiving to give thanks for all the blessings brought throughout the years. It is also a time to appreciate our Veterans, who for love of God and country risked their lives to protect ours. Sincere gratitude to those who have served to protect our freedom…. including the person I would like to introduce you to this month, Ed Beiles.

Born in Manhattan, Ed spent his childhood in Brooklyn, New York. It was not an easy childhood as his parents divorced early and his mother raised Ed and his three siblings alone. They lived in public housing and on food stamps in a dangerous neighborhood. Until the children were older, Ed’s mother stayed home to take care of them, then took a job as a charwoman in New York City. His oldest brother then oversaw the meals and took care of the others. Common items like pencils and paper were in short supply, but Ed did have friends. Ed enjoyed playing baseball, touch football, stick ball and a game called ‘Kings’ which is similar to handball and required 4 courts.

Several years later Ed’s parents remarried, and the family moved to New Jersey. In high school, Ed’s favorite subjects were math, science, and history. He also discovered track in an unexpected way. After getting into a bit of trouble in his sophomore year for cutting up in class, Ed was told he would need to stay after school. As the teacher was also the track coach, Ed was introduced to the sport and to what would become a lifelong activity which includes numerous 5K and 10K events and completing 2 marathons.

After graduating 4th in his high school class, Ed enlisted for 4 years in the United States Air Force. After general training, Ed was assigned to the Combat Missiles Launch Team. Sent to Colorado, his education continued as he learned about electronics, electricity, and how to solder. Following those courses, Ed was sent to Florida for advanced training. After this, Ed was assigned to West Germany during the Cold War era where he worked with missiles that were the predecessor to cruise missiles. Ed is thankful that he never got to do his job, as we did not go to war.

After his 4 years were up, Ed was ready for the college education he had deferred. He started in the spring semester at Rutgers University, where he studied engineering. Ed chuckled when he shared that he was on the Dean’s List the whole time…and thought it was a bad thing when he was first told he was on the list, wondering what he had done wrong! During these college years Ed became friends with Al, who was getting married right after they graduated. Originally enlisted as a driver, Ed became a groomsman when the best man could not attend and people were repositioned. One of the bridesmaids was Al’s older sister, Ginny. Although not partnered, they did dance together and had a good time. That might have been as far as it went, however Ginny’s mother Muriel kept nudging her to contact Ed, and to send him a birthday card with an invitation to come over to look at wedding pictures. After that, things started clicking between them. They went to a church dance in early June, were engaged by the end of the month and married a year later.

Following graduation with a BSEE degree, Ed started working for a company in New Jersey that made connectors for high voltage lines that were direct buried. The couple then moved to New York, where Ed worked as the head of the drafting department, the lab, and did design and product testing. Ed worked with this company for 9 years, but then was ready for a change. After accepting a nice job offer from Amp, Incorporated, the couple moved to Kernersville in 1984. They liked the small-town atmosphere of Kernersville, and the pride people have for their town. Following cutbacks after 9/11, Ed chose early retirement and started a new career as a certified teacher of science and math.

Throughout the years, Ed continued to run for health and enjoyment. In 2007 Ed was teaching on the 3rd floor of the school, and his habit was to take the stairs two at a time. One day, he had to stop in another teachers’ room, where he huffed and puffed—Ed was experiencing shortness of breath which is an indicator of heart problems. Eventually Ed went to see his physician, who immediately sent him to the hospital where he had 5 coronary artery bypass grafts. Ed’s recovery was easier than expected as he had a strong heart from his regular running.

Ed strives to leave the day a little better than when he started and in practicing the ‘3 R’s’ -reduce, reuse, and recycle. He encourages all to enjoy life and to take time to enjoy the journey.

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