Ventura County certainly would look a lot different today without the extraordinary accomplishments of the late Dr. Samuel Edwards.
The physician, banker, farmer and health-care administrator died unexpectedly on Jan. 25 at age 76. Despite an illness that curtailed his activities in recent years, he has left a legacy that will extend for generations into the future.
A resident of Ventura County in his early childhood, he and his wife, Marcia, met as undergraduates at Harvard University. He returned to Santa Paula in 1971 after receiving his medical degree at USC and serving in the Navy.
In health care, his work at Ventura County Medical Center as medical director and later as top administrator helped preserve the county hospital as an institution serving the public, at a time when it was struggling financially. Today, with health-care reform a reality, the Medical Center’s assets — including a countywide network of clinics, trauma care center and family practice residency program with UCLA — Medical School put it in a strong position. Edwards’ efforts also helped preserve Santa Paula’s hospital, now part of the VCMC system.
In agribusiness, he successfully guided the family enterprise, Samuel Edwards Associates, through several mergers, creating the modern Limoneira Co., now ranked among the largest avocado and citrus producers in the world. His son, Harold Edwards, returned home to run Limoneira, a publicly-traded company listed on the Nasdaq stock market.
Samuel Edwards served on a number of bank boards, helping to guide Citizens State Bank of Santa Paula and later Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. A statement from the family remembers him as “a problem solver, an analyst, a cheerleader, a team builder, a model of energy equanimity, enthusiasm and accountability.”
A memorial service will be held Feb. 22 at 10:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church in Santa Paula. Our condolences to his family and to all who knew him.