RED SPRINGS — Former Red Springs Police Chief Herbert “Lum” Edwards, who died on Thursday after a brief illness, is being remembered by colleagues not only as a good cop, but as a good man with a big heart.
Edwards was 70 years old.
A county native, Edwards served with the Robeson Sheriff’s Office for more than 30 years and as Red Springs police chief for almost a dozen more.
His friends and colleagues in law enforcement said Edwards had a gregarious personality that helped him relate to both criminals and those touched by crime.
“He had a good heart and was a good person,” Red Springs Police Chief Ronnie Patterson said. “The community loved him because he was a real hometown police officer. He was one of those guys that would get out into the neighborhood and talk to people.”
Patterson said Edwards was admired by those under his command as well. Edwards would often cook dinner for his officers on Friday nights.
“What I remember most about him is that he stood by his officers and made sure that we had the support we needed,” Patterson said. “He took care of us.”
Edwards retired from the Red Springs force in 2005.
The town of Red Springs plans to lower its flags in honor of the former lawman.
Kevin Stone, the son of former Robeson County Sheriff Hubert Stone, said when he was a kid Edwards seemed “larger than life.” Edwards joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1966.
“My dad would have pool parties when I was growing up where members of the Sheriff’s Department and other police departments would come to the house,” said Stone, chief deputy for rhw U.S Marshal’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. “Lum had since slimmed down, but at that time he was a big old bear of a guy, who was always picking and playing with us kids. He was a favorite.”
Stone said he considered Edwards a member of his family.
“He was always more than a co-worker,” Stone said. “He was there at the funeral when my mom died in 1974 and he was one of the same ones there when my dad passed in 2008.”
Stone got to work with Edwards when he joined his father’s department in 1981. Stone said his father recognized Edwards as a talented officer with “great people skills.” He said Edwards was able to help solve cases because people felt comfortable telling him things.
“He gave 40 years of good service to the county and to Red Springs,” Stone said. “In the annuls of law enforcement, Lum is a man among boys.”
Edwards drove the No. 2 car under Sheriff Stone for several years.
Lumberton City Councilman Burnis Wilkins said Edwards served as a mentor for a generation of law enforcement officers, including himself. Wilkins and Edwards served on the Sheriff’s Department together for about a decade. Edwards served as chief of deputies and Wilkins was chief of detectives.
“Lum was well liked and well respected in the law enforcement community,” Wilkins said. “He helped guide me on my career path and a lot of others.
“Lum was one of those guys that was soft spoken, but carried a big stick as the saying goes. He could handle people with his quiet demeanor when other deputies couldn’t.”
Luke Humphrey, a detective with the Lumberton Police Department, said Edwards gave him his first job in law enforcement.
“He treated all of us officers like family,” said Humphrey, who began as a police office with Red Springs in 2002. “I don’t think he ever called me by name. He always called me son and treated me like one.”
Edwards is survived by his wife, Sally O’Briant Edwards of Red Springs and two children.
The funeral is Sunday at 3 p.m. at Westside Baptist Church in Red Springs. Visitation is today from 7 to 9 p.m. at Crumpler Funeral Home in Red Springs.
A full obituary can be found inside of today’s The Robesonian.