Red Cross loses 19-year veteran

Eloise Edwards, the executive director for the American Red Cross Zia Chapter, talks with Ernest Baca during a Work Place/FirstAid/CPR/AED training class Friday at the Clovis -Carver Library. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Eric Butler: Freedom Correspondent

She made deliveries during a snowstorm, was often the first volunteer to arrive when disaster struck and juggled a hectic schedule in her 19 years with the Clovis Red Cross.

But a personal need of her own has pushed Eloise Edwards, the executive director for the American Red Cross Zia Chapter for the last 11 years, into retirement.

“Sometimes the man upstairs gives you a knock on the door and tells you it’s time to do something else,” said Edwards, as she was honored by the Clovis City Commission on Thursday for her work.

The “knock” for Edwards came when her sister, Karen Shayotovich, died a year ago.

“I had two separate bouts with cancer. I was very fortunate to survive and, so far, it’s in remission,” Edwards explained after the meeting. “My sister and I went through battling cancer together. Hers was just a different kind and my sister did not make it.

“I have a really close family. We spend a lot of time together, but I would just like to do a little more of that.”

Edwards, who graduated from San Jon High School in 1959, is married to Clovis Fire Chief Ron Edwards, who will also retire at the end of the month.

Both will be honored with a reception at the Eagles Lodge from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 23.

Until then, expect Edwards to continue her normal hectic routine of responding to homes damaged by fire or flood, teaching CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) classes, fund raising and more.

“She was always the first volunteer to show up and that’s why she got the job (of executive director),” recalled Nancy Taylor of the Lifesaver Food Bank.

Edwards said during her time with the local Red Cross she was part of three assistance operations that required more help than her office alone could provide.

Flooding was the culprit for two — in Anton Chico and Clovis in 1996 — and major hail caused the Zia Chapter, among others, to move to the help of Logan in 2002.

Edwards remembers spending a week in a hotel in Santa Rosa while helping the Anton Chico residents and then coming home to find more problems.

“We brought them flour, rice, some things they could not get, because there’s no real grocery stores in Anton Chico,” Edwards said. “The next one was here. We hadn’t even hardly got through when from Seventh to Brady and from Wheaton to (Highway) 467, (flooding) tore a whole bunch of stuff up.”

The regular day-to-day assistance provided by the Red Cross is what many said they will remember about Edwards’ time as executive director.

Although some days are more regular than others.
Red Cross volunteer Judi Bottari remembers one instance in which Edwards delivered paperwork to a family in dangerous weather.

“It was needed for, I think, victims of a fire. She was out there in this horrible snowstorm, very late at night, to get this bag so she could help people in need. She’s always like that,” Bottari said. “It doesn’t matter what time of day, how bad the weather is, how bad she’s feeling — she’s there.”