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Lynn Leo Edmisten, Sr. passed away peacefully surrounded by family on November 9, 2023. With his passing, he joined his parents Frederick Earl Edmisten and Della Harmon Edmisten; his son Carl Blane Edmisten; his brothers Gilbert Orlando Edmisten and Edward Earl Edmisten; and his beloved wife of over 45 years, Paulette Fowler Edmisten. And while we may not know exactly how that meeting looks, we know it is a joyous event filled with an abundance of love.
Lynn Edmisten led an extraordinary life and had a remarkable personality. The phrase Esse Quam Videri most appropriately describes his essence. It means “to be, rather than to seem,” which is appropriate as it is the state motto of his beloved North Carolina. As a boy growing up in the Depression-era North Carolina mountains, the youngest of four boys on the farm, he learned the value of hard work and developed an ingrained sense of keeping his priorities intact. He was not distracted by the shiny objects of this world, rather he always made sure to put the welfare of his friends and family at the forefront. His lack of patience for nonsense was legendary, as he always made it clear. No one ever accused him of being shy.
Lynn steadfastly advocated for everyone he met to seek education, both formal and informal. Even while sick in the hospital, he continuously encouraged younger staff members to pursue their education – that was not unusual for him. He was often heard to say that “no experience is a waste of time if you learned something from it.” He encouraged his children to travel in order to understand that “not everyone in the world looks or thinks like you.” His wisdom will be greatly missed. And while his passing is painful, his family continue to learn lessons from him – even if it is merely how to pass from this world with dignity and love.
Lynn possessed a deep sense of dignity and duty. At the age of 15, Lynn was the only child left behind at the family farm in Watauga County, North Carolina. His three older brothers were all active-duty soldiers in the midst of World War II. As he humbly described it, “folks were just more patriotic back then,” and he wanted to help in the war efforts. After repeated attempts to enlist against his parents’ wishes (including once running out of a Marine recruiter’s back door when he saw his mom coming), Lynn finally got the idea to register to be drafted – and that’s exactly what he did. So, at the age of 15 he was drafted into the Army and for the rest of his life he remembered the feeling of lying in a bunk on a ship leaving San Francisco headed for Okinawa, Japan. Ultimately, that 15 year old’s decision led to his not only participating in World War II, but later serving in the Korean War and Vietnam (three tours), during which time he was awarded a Bronze Star medal. When originally asked what he would like to do for the Army he chose Communications, as he thought it would teach him a trade which would be useful later in life because “people are always going to need to communicate with each other.” He was, as usual, correct. Even after retiring from the Army, he continued to supervise crews of workers installing telephone and fiberoptic cables all over the Southeast United States. His advice on leadership was to never ask someone to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself, which brought him tremendous respect from those serving and working with him. Lynn never boasted of his accomplishments – he would only stand at events recognizing veterans when prompted by friends and family. He served others not for the recognition but because he possessed a true servant’s heart and believed it to be the right thing to do and no other reason was needed.
Lynn spent the latter half of his life overcoming numerous heart-related medical challenges – and amazing his doctors at every turn. His success was due in part to sheer determination, which some might call “grit” - and others might call stubbornness. Regardless of what label we apply, this character trait allowed him to be completely independent at 93 years of age.
Lynn is survived by his older brother, Horace Edmisten. Lynn also leaves his son, Leo Edmisten (Mendy) along with his daughters Anesia Johnson (David) and Veronica Edmisten-Schooley (Derek). Lynn was the original “Girl Dad” in his advocacy for women.
He is also survived by his grandchildren: Travis Edmisten, Hayley Edmisten (Bill Lewis), Chastity Brown (Trace Dobson), Josh Brown (Samantha), Nohlyn Brown, Liam Schooley, and Kate Schooley. His great-grandchildren include Sawyer, Landry, Hudson, Camden, Ansley, and Brayden. Last, but certainly not least, Lynn is survived by his spoiled-beyond-belief shih tzu, Princess.
We grieve because we love. And so, because Lynn was so deeply loved, the family’s grief will be profound. If you wish to send flowers or offer condolences, the family has scheduled a memorial service to be held on Friday, November 17, 2023, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Sorensen Funeral Home, 3180 30th Avenue North in St. Petersburg, Florida. But if you truly wish to honor this remarkable man, the family asks that you simply show kindness to a stranger today. Lynn often said, “it doesn’t cost you a dime to be nice to people.” And those who knew him know that he was never one to pass up a bargain - so since kindness is free, he was generous in dispensing it whenever he could. Please honor his legacy by spreading some goodwill to your fellow man.
This soldier has done his duty, completed his mission, and gone home to the rest that he has deserved for so long. Well done, sir.