He was more than Phila. Homicide No. 142
His relatives celebrate the role that Anthony Edwards filled: Son, father, brother, uncle and cousin.
Anthony Edwards' family will bury him today.
To the people of Philadelphia, he was homicide victim No. 142 of 2007. It is easy to forget that he, like other victims of the city's murder epidemic, was more than a statistic; that his life, even in its ordinariness, had an impact.
He was 49, and he was shot dead at lunchtime May 10 in West Oak Lane for the $60 he had in his pocket. Relatives - who do not want his life reduced to the hyphen between 1958 and 2007 - say he would have handed over the money without a fight.
Edwards' death merited only a few lines in this newspaper. All that story said about him - and few stories are ever complete - was that he once was on probation for a drug possession.
Yes, his family said, he had his own demons, but he never inflicted them on anyone else and had regained his footing in life.
"There was nothing special about him to outsiders, but to us he was a great man," his brother, Solomon, said. "He saved my life."
To his family, Williams was a son, father, brother, uncle and cousin. He was funny and giving.
"He always put himself last," said sister Kim.
On Ogontz Avenue, where he was shot, everyone knew him as "Little," not because he was short - he was 5-11 - but because he was lanky.
"He was as wide in the front as he was sideways," said cousin Barry Morrison.
"I wish I could eat like he did and not gain weight," said Morrison's son Khalil.
Edwards had simple pleasures. Reading the Daily News cover to cover every day was one. The music of Michael Jackson was another. And of course, watching sports of all kinds. Even golf.
"The only argument I really ever had with my brother was over Michael Jackson," Solomon, 40, said smiling.
To Solomon, Anthony was more than a brother. He became the man in his life after their parents split.
Together with his cousin Barry, Anthony Edwards helped guide Solomon to become the person he is today: a Marine Corps vet, a SEPTA police officer of 17 years and a father of a 14-year-old boy.
Barry, he said, stressed the need for education. Anthony wanted him to be better than he was, to not make the mistakes he himself had, and to stay focused "on the positive things life has to offer."
Anthony Edwards' last hours followed what had become a weekly ritual.
He had moved to Lansdale after landing a job as a cashier at Redner's Warehouse Market in North Wales, where workers this week wore black ribbons in his memory.
"He was very personable," said manager Brian Golden. "He got along with everybody. Our customers liked him. His coworkers liked him."
Thursdays were his day off. On May 10, as he did every week, he returned to the Cedarbrook section to see his mother, to get his hair cut and to visit with friends on Ogontz Avenue.
On their last day together, Edwards and his mother, Sandra, went out to breakfast at Dawn's on Ogontz with her adopted daughter, Cleo, to celebrate his birthday three days earlier.
Afterward, she dropped him off a few blocks away so he could see his friends.
"He said, 'I'll be back soon,' " said Sandra Edwards, who still has the copy of the Daily News he never finished.
Within an hour, police were at the door of her home on Cedarbrook Avenue to report that Anthony had been shot and taken to Einstein Hospital.
Surgeons worked to save him, but he died at 2:24 p.m.
The family is tortured by the thought he was killed by someone who knew him, knew that he would be there on Thursday and knew that he would have just been paid. Detectives are still investigating.
For Solomon Edwards, who recalled witnessing the grief of a mother of a boy who had been killed in 1994, his brother's death was a painful, personal lesson in how violence can be random and senseless.
"I never thought I'd be on the other side," he said. "And then I saw my mother in the same sort of pain."
Edwards also is survived by his son, Anthony, and sisters Pam, Regina and Sierra.
Interment will be at Chelten Hills Cemetery after an 11 a.m. service at the Holy Temple of God Baptist Church, 6711 Ogontz Ave.
Family members share their memories of homicide victim Anthony Edwards at http://go.philly.com/anthonyedwardsEndText