Gary Edwards Sr., a grounds construction crew foreman in the Facilities Management Department, is known as a “go-to” guy at UNC Charlotte.
On any given day, one will likely see Edwards on campus working on a number of small- to large-scale projects. The 2016 year-end asphalt road repairs on campus ranks high as one of his most notable projects. Other efforts where his leadership and vast knowledge were influential include site work, grading, digging and heavy equipment use throughout campus.
A native of West Virginia, Edwards began his 30-year career at the University a year after his late father, William “Bill” Edwards, relocated to join the UNC Charlotte faculty.
“My dad sparked my interest in UNC Charlotte when he got here,” Edwards stated. “I remember him teaching mechanical engineering classes and moving around campus to the Smith, Cameron and Kennedy buildings.”
Since joining the University in 1987, Edwards has worked in grounds, construction crew and maintenance mechanic positions.
Edwards has stories of many great experiences throughout his career, but among the fondest involve his interactions with University founder Bonnie Cone.
“She was always a joy to be around,” he recalled. “She greatly inspired me because of how much she showed she cared for employees.” Edwards remembered several times when Cone would insist “my workers” be included in pictures with her.
Today, Edwards is well-known for displaying the same considerate and thoughtful nature.
“He really is such a nice guy,” said Steve Terry, facilities planner. Terry and Edwards have worked together on a number of design services projects including the recycling building complex – a building to be used by the Recycling team for a number of tasks, including sorting football trash in connection to the Zero Waste initiative. “He never ceases to amaze me,” Terry added in reference to how Edwards always seem to “squeeze things in that, often times, seems impossible.”
In recognition of his exceptional work ethic, project management and leadership skills, FM selected him as its 2016 Employee of the Quarter and later as its Employee of the Year. Earlier this year, he was one of five staff members honored by the University as a 2017 Employee of the Year. He was recognized in the devotion to duty category.
“It feels good to be recognized for doing work you enjoy,” Edwards noted.
His upbeat personality and positive outlook on life are infectious. When asked to share rewards and challenges of the job he said, “It’s rewarding to see everything come together. I’ve been here so long, I don’t see challenges – I just see things that need to get done.”
Commonly referred to as “G-dog,” Edwards is likely to be shooting pool or riding his Harley with members of his bike club when not on the job.
He is the proud father of two adult children, Gary Jr. and Felishia and grandfather to an 8-month-old grandson, Graham, better known as “Baby G.”
Photo by Beverly Imes