“For I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith …” (2 Timothy 4:6,7)
Romaine Viola Edwards was born on December 19, 1929 in Darby, Pennsylvania. She was the only child of the late Eunice Smith. When Romaine was very young, her mother met and married William Moore who loved and raised her as his own.
Romaine accepted Christ at an early age. She was a member of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church and enjoyed singing in the children’s and young adult choir.
She also loved to dance. She attended Darby High School where she excelled in track and basketball. Also, she enrolled at Virginia Union University, a private historically Black Baptist university in Richmond, Virginia.
At VUU, she continued singing in the university choir and traveling the country to express her love for the Lord. She pledged to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and in 1951, earned a degree in sociology. Later, she returned to home to work for the NAACP Philadelphia chapter.
While employed at the NAACP, she met and organized with Attorney Thurgood Marshall, who went on to become the first Black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Marshall encouraged Romaine to continue her studies and she applied to the University of Pennsylvania, which at the time, enrolled very few people of color.
She was accepted into the School of Social Work and in 1954, Romaine received her Master’s degree. After graduation, she left the state to work in several hospitals as a social worker.
In 1959, Romaine moved to Los Angeles, California, where she met the love of her life. She would often recount how when she saw Johnny “Jerry ” Edwards walk across a crowded room, she knew instantly that he would become her husband.
Three months later, Jerry and Romaine wed and through this union, two children, Lea and John were born. Together, they also became business owners of the infamous “Jerry’s Fling Fox Restaurant,” which remained in operation for over 50 years.
Romaine was one of the first directors of the Pasadena Mental Health Center, which was founded in 1965. Having moved their family to the city of Pasadena, Romaine became a long-standing member of the First AME Church in Pasadena and helped to established their library. The Edwards Library houses the church’s artifacts as well as historical information regarding Pasadena’s African American community.
Throughout her life, Romaine dedicated herself to the encouragement and improvement of those who suffer from mental health issues and drug and alcohol addiction. In 1977, her book, “Crisis Intervention And How It Works,” was published. It continues to be used as a resource tor mental health professionals throughout the nation and as a teaching resource in universities including USC, UCLA, and Cal State L.A.
Romaine, along with her longstanding friend, Happy Howard, are said to have established the very first Cocaine Anonymous meeting facility for Los Angeles. Romaine also established the California Alcoholism Foundation, which tor many years served as an educational resource tor drug and alcohol professionals.
Her final position before retiring was as a director for the House of Uhuru, a drug treatment center operated by Watts Health Foundation. During her tenure, she helped developed a women and children’s center where woman could receive treatment while learning how to parent. She so enjoyed her work that she did not officially retire until the age of 80!
Romaine also loved to travel and expose others to local and world travel. She loved exploring and learning about other cultures and cherished her experiences visiting other countries and continents.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Eunice and William Moore; mother-in-law, Lila “Popcee” May Venters; and father-in-law, Johnny “Jimbo” Edwards.
She leaves to cherish her memory her loving husband, Johnny “Jerry” Edwards, Jr.; daughter, Lea Marie Edwards Mitchell; son, Johnny Edwards III; daughter-in-law, Fashion Edwards; step-daughter, Tonya Edwards; and a host of grandchildren and great grandchildren, dear friends, cousins and extended family.
A celebration of her life will be held on Monday, April 18, at 5:30 p.m., at Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles. The officiant is Presiding Bishop Emeritus Charles Edwards Blake Sr., co-pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles.