Julie McDonald Commentary: Saying Goodbye to Ed Fund, a Faithful Friend and Family Man


Lewis County lost a stalwart supporter of the community Thursday afternoon when Edward Lawrence Fund passed on to his heavenly reward just a month shy of his 93rd birthday.

I met Ed nearly two decades ago after connecting with his wife, Edna Fund, as volunteers on President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign. We grew from acquaintances and dinner companions to precious friends — almost family, as they celebrated several holidays with us.

More than a decade ago, I gave Ed a digital recorder to preserve stories he often told friends and family members. He enjoyed conversing with people, sharing uplifting and encouraging messages whenever he could. I wrote a column about him in September 2012 when he shared his Korean War experiences at the Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehalis. He served as an aircraft mechanic and crew chief with the 522nd Fighter Squadron, working in subzero temperatures at Taegu on the southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula.

Most people in Lewis County know his wife of 42 years, Edna Fund, a retired state Vocational Rehabilitation employee who served on the Centralia City Council and later two terms as Lewis County commissioner. When she doorbelled throughout the county, Ed drove the van and dropped off campaign volunteers. He accompanied her to community events throughout Lewis County — bingo, pie auctions, pancake breakfasts, Rotary and Lincoln Day dinners, annual meetings and campaign mixers. He was truly the wind beneath her wings, her biggest fan and constant cheerleader.

I enjoyed hearing Ed’s stories and often described him as literally “a walking miracle.” In his 30s, Ed worked as a firefighter at the Yakima Fire Department but enjoyed camping, boating and tobogganing with his family. During one trip with his children, as they flew down the snow-covered slope, their toboggan hit a patch of ice, soared into the air and plunged into a crater, jarring to a stop. Everyone behind Ed flew forward into him, which broke vertebrae in his back and damaged his spinal cord. When a surgeon told him he’d never walk again, Ed refused to believe it. After surgery, powerful prayers and perseverance through physical therapy, he learned to walk again using crutches and eventually braces.

Last year, I learned even more about Ed when we worked together to publish his stories in a book called “The Art of Giving Yourself Away … from the Heart.” He was the youngest of six children born to Mary Julia (Peterson) Fund and Gottfried “Fred” Fund, a Swiss immigrant and railroad flagger who instilled a strong work ethic and taught lifelong lessons. As a youngster in Yakima, Ed helped his father plant corn and learned an important lesson: “You reap what you sow.”

Ed was only 15 when his father died, and he told me he was quite “an undone little guy for a while.” He used to climb the fence at the Yakima airport and watch planes take off and land. He volunteered to sweep the office for barnstorming pilot Charlie McAllister who ran the McAllister Flying Service School of Flying. He saved every penny he earned and, in 1945 at the age of 15, he learned to fly. McAllister offered him a bargain price for lessons — a dollar an hour. 

After graduating from high school, Ed joined the U.S. Air Force. At 19, while attending Jet Propulsion School at Bergstrom Air Force Base near Austin, Texas, he purchased a two-seater Fairchild PT-19, a primary trainer airplane. Upon his discharge in 1952, he sold his airplane to buy a used Ford Mercury and return to Washington. He worked for Boeing Co., started a TV repair shop, and then joined the Yakima Fire Department. 

Ed’s broken back ended his firefighting career, but he entered vocational rehabilitation and decided to pursue his lifelong dream of obtaining a college education with help from the GI Bill. As a senior in high school, he told me, his classmates laughed at him when he announced his desire to attend college. As the son of a working class railroader, he couldn’t afford it, but he wanted to learn.

He earned an associate degree at Yakima Valley Community College, a bachelor’s in psychology from Central Washington University, and a master’s in psychology from the University of Washington. He worked for the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation as a counselor and later a supervisor. He also bought and sold real estate.

In December 1953, Ed married an attractive divorced woman with a daughter, Denise, whom he adopted. Together, they had a son and daughter, Larry and Paula.

After that union ended in divorce, he married Edna J. McGee, who also had a son, and moved to Centralia. He was close to her parents, William and June Gorter of Onalaska, and a stepfather to J.R. McGee. J.R. married Anita Chow in Hong Kong, and Ed became grandfather to their four children as well as the offspring of Denise, Larry, and Paula.

Despite suffering chronic pain from his broken back and other health challenges, Ed always focused on the positive, offering tidbits of humor and words of wisdom. In later years, he carried a seat cushion with him wherever he went and frequently quipped, “My tush likes this cush.”

As we finished his book, Ed often repeated a story he’d told me earlier, and we had a running joke because I’d respond, “It’s in the book.”

I’m going to miss Ed, a constant and faithful companion to Edna and a friend to me and my family, but I know I can always crack open his book and reconnect with him as I read the stories he loved to share.

A celebration of his life is planned for April 8.


Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, may be reached at memoirs@chaptersoflife.com