Montclair Mourns the Loss of Football Coach Dr. Jerry Edwards

Dr. Gerald (Jerry) Edwards (right) with current MSU head coach Rick Giancola at a recent Montclair State Football Alumni Beefsteak.

Dr. Gerald (Jerry) Edwards, football, basketball, and track coach at Montclair State University from1958-1966, died in Port Jefferson, NY on Sunday, March, 21, 2010, after a short illness.  During his tenure at Montclair State, Dr. Edwards taught physical education courses and lived with his wife, Rita, in Chapin Hall as dorm parents, along with their two young daughters, Ellen and Carolyn.

During the Edward’s years of coaching and teaching at Montclair State, he also coached two of four undefeated football teams in Montclair State University history.  In addition, his football, track, and basketball teams were all very successful, both athletically and in terms of what the players gained from the experience.

Today Edwards’ athletes continue to praise him for his influence in their lives as they share special memories of their days at Montclair State with him.  They especially recognize their Coach for his coaching fundamentals, for parenting them, and for mentoring them throughout life. He never lost touch with them.

In2007 Coach was honored by seventy of his former Montclair State team members, who traveled to Montclair from throughout the country to celebrate Edwards with a reunion to pay tribute and to reminisce together about their years at Montclair State.

Following the reunion, a small group of the athletes continued to meet to plan another Edwards’s celebration during Homecoming 2010 and to recognize the fiftieth anniversary of their undefeated 1960 football team, coached by Edwards. 

This Steering Committee of team members has also spearheaded the Coach Jerry Edwards Athletic Endowment Fund to honor their Coach and to earmark this special fund to assist football, men’s basketball and track sports.  Their goal is to reach $50,000 before their October Homecoming 2010 celebration and they are already at “the 50-yardline.”

Dr. Jerry Edwards’ coaching career at Montclair State still claims the highest winning percentage of any football coach in program history. During his tenure, Edwards fashioned a 36-12 mark (.750 winning percentage) and recorded two of the five undefeated seasons in athletic history.  He was inducted into the Montclair State Athletic Hall of Fame in April 1991 and is one of fifteen coaches to be so enshrined.

Edwards was the eighth head football coach at Montclair State, taking over the reins of the program in 1960. In the year before his arrival, the team had gone2-6, losing its last four games, including a 33-7 setback against archrival Trenton State. But Edwards turned things around completely. In fact, his team never lost a game that season as they outscored their opponents 181-54, finishing the year at 8-0 capped off by a 21-19 win against C.W. Post. The eight victories were a new single-season record.

Edwards’ winning ways continued into the 1961 season as his Montclair State team won its first six contests to extend its winning streak to 14, another school record. That streak would end in the seventh contest as Montclair State fell to Millersville State.

Over the next two years, Edwards would lead Montclair to an 11-6 mark before making history again in 1964. Armed with an outstanding defensive unit that surrendered just 42 points the entire season, Edwards guided Montclair to perfection, this time at 7-0. Included in those victories was a memorable 7-0 win over Cortland in a “Battle of the Unbeatens.”

Edwards coached one more season before leaving Montclair State in the summer of1966, to accept a position at Adelphi University.  

Dr.Jerry Edwards is survived by his wife, Rita Edwards of South Setauket, NY, two daughters, Carolyn Edwards Basiliere and her husband Tony of Burlington,VT,  Ellen Davidson and her husband Ken of Andover, MA,  two grandchildren, Bryce and Conor, and a stepdaughter, Fullis Conroy and her husband Bob of Williamsport, PA and three step-grandchildren, Silas, Meredith and Fiona.

Memorial Gifts for Coach Edwards may be directed to:

Montclair State University Foundation                                                                             
For:  Coach Jerry Edwards Athletic Endowment Fund                                            

Please mail to:
Montclair State University Foundation             
One Normal Avenue
Montclair, NJ  07043