Leo Edwards (Jume 1929 – March 2024)

Leo Edwards (Jume 1929 – March 2024)

Leo Edwards left this experience on March 20, 2024, at the age of 94, at his home in Ventura, Ca with his family near him. As a husband, father, grandfather, friend and mentor, Leo Edwards lived a life that embodied the essence of a positive attitude and a talent for teaching. Leo Edwards was born June 30, 1929, in California to Jessie Espinoza Flores & Antonio Benitez Flores. Leo’s brother Richard Flores, was born 2 years later.

Leo’s early childhood was difficult. His mother Jessie passed away when he was 6 years old, leaving him and his brother Richard in the foster care system. Leo was taken in by the Santa Paula Fire chief during his early teens, and changed his name from Leopoldo Flores to Leo Edwards, in honor of the Fire chief. In his teen years Leo found a home in Santa Paula with Russell & Josephine Clark, and their daughter Martha Jane. A cousin, Exoa, from the Clark extended family, had just moved out of the Clark’s home which gave Leo a place to call home.

Leo’s athletic career at Santa Paula High School, where he played football, baseball and track, then graduated in 1948, gave Leo a new purpose in life, athletics, in which he immersed himself with passion, until his passing at 94. Playing football at Ventura College led to meeting his wife Virginia Diane Goodwin of Fillmore, California and mother of his 4 children. After playing football at Ventura College, he earned a football scholarship to play at Cal Poly Pomona, where after his Junior year, the Korean was came calling. Leo was drafted into the Army, where he served with distinction in Korea. He managed to return after earning 2 Purple Hearts for being wounded in action and a Bronze Star for heroism and meritorious service and was lucky to come back in one piece, but with extra perforations.

After being discharged from the Army Leo became a police officer in Santa Paula, & married Diane in
1953. Leo, who left school as an engineering student before he was drafted, took up that path again &
went to work for Rocketdyne in the aerospace industry. Leo & Diane moved to Diane’s hometown of Fillmore, & raised 4 children there together – Linda, William, Barbara, & Kathleen. Leo was active as a coach for his children in their various teams & athletic pursuits. He was a Fillmore Raiders Youth Football coach & a coach in the first girls’ softball league in Fillmore for the Barnett Bombers. Leo Loved to jog, and it was how he learned about meditation. He could be seen all over town & miles away jogging after work.

Sadly, Diane passed away from lupus in 1979. A few years later Leo met Mary Vifquain Shipp & they
married in 1983 and relocated to Ventura where they lived until Leo’s death. Leo & Mary enjoyed
travelling & spending time with their families. As grandchildren came along, they had plenty of sports contests & school events to enjoy. Leo especially loved going to granddaughter Courtney’s
softball games.

Leo retired in 1994 from Rockwell International, the successor to Rocketdyne, where started his 2nd “career” as a fitness enthusiast & later a certified fitness trainer, earning that certification at age 80! He was a regular at the Ventura YMCA for many years & taught Qi Gong & senior fitness in Ventura. He was also a regular with the “guys lunch group” at Danny’s Deli in Ventura, where he said they solved all the problems of the world over lunch.

In 2017 Leo did something that would change his life – he submitted his dna to He
wanted to know if he was Native American. It turned out that he was Native American, Mexican,
Spanish, Filipino, with a bit of European and sub-Saharan African added in for good measure. And it
turned out that his father, whom he had thought died when he was very young, had lived until 1976, &
had 2 children with his 2nd wife. Leo discovered his half-brother Ruben Flores & his half-sister.
Rosemary Rosas. It was an amazing discovery, as his brother Richard Flores had died in 1985. Both
Ruben & Rosemary, plus, their families became close to Leo. Rosemary, also known as Nena, gave him his favorite tee shirt that said, “Leo the Lion – Meow!” on it. He wore that tee shirt all the time. Leo was
also thrilled to discover that his brother Richard had a son, Nick Flores, and was happy to be able to meet him at a gathering of the whole “found” Flores clan.

Leo leaves his wife Mary Edwards, children Linda Edwards, William Edwards (Suzanne), & Barbara Edwards, plus stepchildren Roger Shipp (Tonya) & Patrick Shipp (Grace), along with grandchildren Steven Frazier, Courtney Terrazas, William Rico Edwards, Noah Arca, & Anastazsa Ragatz, great-granddaughters Nala & Elena, plus many others who will miss his quick smile, bright bow on his head during birthday or holiday party and his boundless support and wisdom. Leo was predeceased by his first wife Diane Edwards, his brother Richard Flores, his sister Rosemary Flores Rosas and his daughter Kathleen Susan Edwards.

In tribute, Bill wrote the following –

In loving memory of a cherished father,
Whose heart was as grand as his years were long.
For thirty years at the YMCA's side,
He stood as a pillar, both caring and strong.

His laughter, a melody, echoed in halls,
Where seniors found joy in his comforting presence.
Each story he shared, a thread in the weave,
Of a tapestry rich with his life's luminescence.

He taught us to live with compassion and grace,
To reach out a hand, to uplift and embrace.
His legacy lives in each life he has graced,
A beacon that time nor tide can ever erase.

So here's to a man who was more than a father,
A mentor, a friend, in service to others.
His memory, a treasure we'll always hold dear,
A guide for our journey, year after year.

There will be a memorial gathering to honor Leo on Saturday, April 20 at noon at the clubhouse at
Rancho Ventura, 1220 Johnson Drive, Ventura. Anyone wishing to honor Leo could do so by helping out
his favorite place – the Ventura YMCA.