William J. Edwards III

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1985, and updated in 1998, 2002, and 2019.



Jack Edwards was a member of the law firm of Hand Arendall, L.L.C., in Mobile, Ala. After twenty years in the U.S. House of Representatives he voluntarily retired in 1985 to return to the practice of law.

Mr. Edwards had a unique and distinguished career in public life. He served under five Presidents from Lyndon Johnson through Ronald Reagan's first term; and as a Republican leader in the House of Representatives, he met with Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan on a weekly basis.

While in Congress he was on the Appropriations Committee where he served for many years on the Transportation Subcommittee. He was best known, however, as an expert on National Defense, having been the senior Republican for ten years on the Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee. He also served on the House Banking Committee.

Jack Edwards was born in Birmingham, Alabama on September 20,1928. He received his grammar and high school education in Homewood, Alabama. Jack Edwards served in his country's Marine Corps during the years 1946-48 and in 1950-51. He attended the University of Alabama where he earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration in 1952. He was also awarded a Juris Doctor degree by the same institution in 1954.

While a student at the University of Alabama, he was elected president of the Student Government Association. During his student days he was honored by being selected to membership in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.

On November 3, 1964 Jack Edwards was elected a member of the United States Congress from the first Alabama district which includes Mobile. After completing 10 consecutive terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives, he retired January 2, 1985.

After returning to Mobile, Jack Edwards continued his public service as Chairman of the Board of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the boards of the Mobile Opera, Mobile Economic Development Council and many other civic boards and committees. He served on the Mayor's Waterfront Advisory Committee. He was named Alabama Volunteer Industrial Developer of the Year in 1987. In 1985, he was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor and he was honored as Mobilian of the Year for 1987.

He served on the Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama System from 1988 to 1999 and was President Pro Tem of the Board when he retired. He served on the Board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority from 1987 to 1996, and, in 1988, served as Co-Chairman of the Defense Secretary's Commission on Base Realignment and Closure, known as BRAC I because it was the first such commission.

In addition to his law practice and his public service work, Edwards also served on the Corporate boards of The Southern Company, Holnam Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation, and QMS, Inc.

In l980, Mobile College conferred upon him the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Jack Edwards was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church. He is listed in Who's Who in America.

Jack Edwards was married to the former Jolane Vander Sys with whom he had a daughter, a son, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.  Jack Edwards passed away on September 27, 2019.