One step at a time.
Take it easy.
Keep at it.
  • 70 years old
  • Born on January 14, 1941 in Fort Valley, Georgia, United States.
  • Passed away on November 10, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina, United States.

This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one,

John Thomas Edwards, 70, born on January 14, 1941 and passed away on

November 10, 2011. We will remember him forever.

He has left a legacy with lots of instructions. Let us begin with his credo:

"One step at a time.  Take it easy.  Keep at it."

Please read the STORIES and tributes and share as you wish.

Posted by Mattie Decker on November 10, 2019
And here, now, this bright bold day of November 10, 2019...I remember you easily and quietly...Veteran's Day tomorrow...thank you for your service....and today, the anniversary of your departure to places unknown, and with strength and even your 'looking forward' as you said to what lies ahead. Today the trees are burnished, the hills and mountain streams singing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Posted by Martha Decker on January 14, 2019
Dear JTE....the 78th anniversary of your birth....celebrating this day in remembrance and continuance of your many gifts that live on in me, and in so many. Thank you dear John. I have added photos from where I live now, where you came with me on my first visit here in 2009 at Bat Cave in the western North Carolina mountains.
Posted by Sid Jordan on January 14, 2018
I am remembering John and I conducting his PhD dissertation study together in Charleston that used meditation and relaxation training to help people reduce smoking. In his inimitable style he helped these people accomplish their goal to reduce or quit smoking by slowing down, being more mindful, keeping at recording their progress. This helped a significant number reduce or quit smoking. During the years that followed, during his time in Charleston, many of the former members of this effort to reduce smoking in their lives approached him in public, thanking him for helping them kick the habit. 

He reduced his own smoking habit and added a consistent practice of meditation that served him well for the balance of his life. At his memorial service at his home some of us were comforted in our grief and amused when his ode to cigarettes was read to his "friend" of those few daily smokes he enjoyed sitting on his porch or in his shop. Can't you see him sitting there caressing his "friend' and expelling smoke as one of his meditations? (Whoever has this poem he wrote to cigarettes might consider putting it on this site) 

During his life the number of people he helped personally and professionally are legion.  His legacy lives on in all of us who knew him.

Rainer Maria Rilke's lines captures some of John's gift to us:

To praise is the whole thing! A man who can praise
comes to us like ore out of the slience of rock.
His heart, that dies, presses out
for others a wine that is fresh forever.

He is one of the servants who does not go away,
who still holds through the doors
of the tomb trays of shinning fruit.
Posted by Martha Decker on January 14, 2018
Happy Birthday, dearest JTE!
It is, says the math, your 77th and I am posting TWO GIFTS for your website this is a clear, cold January day in the North Carolina mountains today....and you are very close.
A COMMUNITY OF SPIRITS by Rumi is now in "YOUR LIFE" section here, and in photos, I have placed your beloved KINGFISHER.
Thank you, dear friend for YOUR gifts which we continue to unpack and make present here, for you.
77! I just realized we met when you were 27 and I, 19! You, just home from Vietnam and so beautiful in every way. I give thanks for this fresh memory. Thank you Life.
In abiding trust,
Posted by Michael Jordan on November 11, 2017
Uncle John was always an inspiration to me from an early age. When I was 15 or 16, I used to “hang out” with him at his house in Mount Pleasant, SC. I remember that he was always involved in some project and, of course, it became “our project” when I was there with him. I remember asking him one day why he was so intense about a wooden table he was building for his dining room. He replied, “We are what we do.” Uncle John did not waste a lot of words. When he spoke, it was well articulated and parsimonious. Anyway, his words went right over my head. I thought, “Whatever.” Truth be known, he really wasn’t that good at building wooden furniture at that time. He made lots of mistakes. He had a carpenter friend who would stop by and give advice. But Uncle John kept at it. Finally, he finished the dining room table and it was beautiful. He approached all of his life projects the same way, even his dissertation (which he was doing at the time). Upon reflection, I realize that Uncle John was practicing his core life philosophy – “One step at a time. Take it easy. Keep at it”. This is the way he lived. Steady, but sure progress. When I encounter adversity in my life and I get into a dark place with negative self-talk telling me that I can’t do something or be something, I see in my mind a light house that shows me the way. This light house is Uncle John and he reminds me even now that anything is possible with steady progress. Now that I am 56 years old, I know what he meant by, “We are what we do.” It took me nearly 34 years to understand this lesson. John the man is gone. But John’s wisdom and his heart live on in me.
Posted by Martha Decker on November 10, 2017
I love Michael's beautiful, poignant words, as would you, dear John. You are with me every day in some way and today especially. I bow to your legacy that I feel alive in me and in so many. It brings a new surge of dedication for us to bring forward what we may from those whom you have trained in Family Systems. I believe we use what you taught in some way each day. I will be interviewing each one and we will share with all we can, your wisdom, wit, and wonderful inclusion of ALL. Love is Eternal and Love is stronger than death. NOW. I miss you and I love you.
Posted by Sid Jordan on November 10, 2017
John, My son, Mike, and I met last week and both shared our deep love and gratitude for all that you meant to us personally and as a model for getting things done in our work. Your inspiration continues to lift us to new heights and a legacy we will continue to honor and try to pass on to others. This circle of love and service remains unbroken.
Posted by Michael Mcguire on November 10, 2017
Hi John. A crisp fall day. The kind only made possible in the wake of a dreary front. Each leaf, having moved from their springtime bud, through the long green summer, now flash with brilliance before catching a passing breeze and dancing with vigor until resting in their mother's lap. Another year and I've lost another father. I don't care much for this inescapable truth. I wonder, at times, if when you spoke of living in the now, you allowed for the now of memories. I miss you.
Posted by Sid Jordan on January 14, 2017
John’s Message

“Slow down (Way Down! I insert),
One step at a time
Keep at it” echos in my head.
As Izzy, John’s favorite dog,
And I jog south on the vacant beach
in the drizzling rain.

The pace slows as I retrace by steps
northward on the beach.
The incoming tide
begins to cover my old tracks.
Something is ripening besides the figs in August:
my old mistakes.

No time left to procrastinate; 
good ideas are falling from the tree.
John always said don’t take the figs
until they fall into your hand
when touched. 
The birds didn’t listen.

I’m over-ripe
ready to fall from the tree.
Best I quickly harvest
The fruits of my toil;
seventy six years
of growing intuition.

Ghost chapters of my life
are fading fast.
Best I “keep at it”;
Honor John’s message,
The master “shop keeper”.
He finished what he started.

His Brother,

I am still collecting the fruits of his legacy everyday. 
Happy Birthday John.
Posted by Martha Decker on January 14, 2017
Holy Cow, John! 76! I met you when you were 26! FIFTY years have passed, the Earth 'round the Sun! I can still see your handsome self there, just back from Viet Nam and so eager to begin your new life being home. How beautiful indeed was your life and so filled with service for others, ALWAYS, always! I love celebrating you this day and I will take out the photos from Ossabaw Island, and Colorado, and at Foundation Place and here at Halcyon Place and I will rejoice in it all. Yesterday I walked down the stone steps from the mountain to my house here and stopped to honor the spot where you would sit when you visited here, to smoke in silence and alone, your "private" time, you called it. I honor it all, dearest JTE and I give thanks to yet be here and continue your legacy best as I may, remembering the CREDO. One step at a time. Take it easy. Keep at it.
Posted by Larry Sharpe on November 11, 2016
John, my wise and loving friend.....Veterans Day always makes me think of you and your stories about your experiences especially in Viet Nam. Like most everything you did they combined humor and the light side of life with the most serious of situations. A gift from you that I keep learning to incorporate into my life. I miss you and I continue to use your wise counsel. Thank you.
Posted by Dora Ahmadi on November 11, 2016
What would John say about the 2016 election results? 
He probably would say it is another challenge we must take and endure.
From your peacefulness, we will gain strength.
Posted by Michael Mcguire on November 10, 2016
Hi John, it's been five years. Hard to imagine it's been so long. I'm quite happy my new job allows me to further your efforts in helping clinicians help families be successful. The work is always interesting and enjoyable. Thanks again for all you've taught me and when I feel lost I remember to come back to now.
Posted by Martha Decker on November 10, 2016
Today is November 10th, 2016 and it is now five years since you left us. I know you would not have us be sentimental and as I ponder how to honor this day I realize it is "Now" you said, this is our "home". Yes, indeed. Dearest JTE, your legacy lives on, as powerfully and surely as Thoreau's life here on the shelf you read so often. Your words to yourself on your little post-it notes, "MOVE" inspire me daily to get out and move my body, do QiGong, walk, even run some days with little Izzy now six! I decided to post a few photos from here, and to send this out now to simply smile and feel how cherished you and your work is NOW and IS indeed stronger than death, and so is your life. Your gifts to me, believing in me, encouraging me to be my best, are right here, right now. In how I choose to be mindful in what I eat, what I say and what I do. I love you and continue on each day, in this eternal love. Tomorrow is Veteran's day. You were a veteran, so I will honor you tomorrow especially also. The photos? me in my kayak last week on Cave Run Lake you enjoyed. The deer in my backyard like your's each day also at Foundation Place. Then the autumn colors, and little Izzy and Glory Cat.
Posted by Tiffany Castellanos on November 10, 2016
Thinking in you today dear friend, as we honor your memory. I only knew you for a short time but we were kindred spirits and you left a lasting impact on me. Your wisdom and beautiful spirit will never be forgotten...
Posted by Angela Cowell on March 24, 2016
Hi John, as I walk along today, reflecting on the AAMFT approved supervisor candidate process I've almost finished, I can't help but reflect on the great impact you still have on my training and on me. Not a week goes by without me sharing your wisdom to the next generation of MFTA's. I wish I was truly able to appreciate the completeness of who you were and what you had to offer way back was a privilege to walk with you, even though for only a moment in time.
Posted by Rebecca Barboff on January 14, 2016
Happy Birthday, John. I have thought of you a lot, especially in these past 6 months. Much of the wisdom you shared with me has suddenly come front & center, as I travel down a new path in my own life. Life is full of challenges, as usual, but for me the current challeng has been particularly hard. You have surfaced as one of my angels/my guides during this time. I cannot help but think about some of your pearly words:
  -Patience may not be the ultimate virtue, but it's close.
   -Learning is discovering that something is possible.
   -Some days are better than others.
My current life is a daily lesson in patience & your guidance is helping me be that.
I am learning so very much about myself these days & I'm bringing those lessons to life in my current journey.
Many days are better than others; I'm accepting the good with the bad & realizing something I've always known - that God doesn't ever give me more than I can handle.
Thanks again for being such a good friend & mentor. Dance with the angels today!
Posted by Mattie Decker on January 14, 2016
"Happy Birthday", indeed, dear John Thomas Edwards, Jr.
I said these words aloud earlier this morning as I hiked up to the hill and stood, amazed to hear the helicopter at St. Claire Hospital that lifted off with you, now years ago. It is impossible, of course that you are not here, and yet, as all who were touched by your life, we feel you ever close ever guiding with your Wisdom, Gentleness, Strength, Care. I recently quoted you in my journal when writing of a situation in my life now, in which you said to me, "sometimes a person NEEDS rescuing". You always pushed against any standard way of thinking or doing, to dig down to the root of truth. Your legacy is living, alive and well in each of us, dearest JTE. Thank you for helping us understand that love is, indeed, Eternal.
Posted by Larry Sharpe on January 14, 2016
Happy Birthday dear John! I am filling in for you at The Children's Home by continuing the monthly group you did there for years. I am successfully channeling you so it is going very well. I love how you were so adept at simplifying complexity. That ability made your training and teaching so very effective and I continue to strive to develop that ability but I have a ways to go. On a personal level I grieve the loss of spending time with you and engaging in always stimulating conversations.  As Milton Erickson said "My Voice will go with you" and yours certainly does so you are part of my life everyday. Miss you so much.
Posted by Michael Mcguire on January 14, 2016
HBD John! I was standing, by my window …

New job, new opportunity to further your wisdom, new chance to fail, new time for growth, new time to stare like a cow staring at a new fence, new time to be old, new time to be new. I am beginning to understand. I love you. - Michael
Posted by Michael Mcguire on November 10, 2015
Hi John, I'm still trying to live in the now, as you encouraged. Looking at a job right now that would allow me to push along your ideas. We'll see. Here's hoping you are yet another of my guardian angels that have been with me for so very long. - Michael
Posted by Tiffany Castellanos on November 13, 2014
Thinking of John today and all I learned from him about working with families. We also enjoyed many of the same topics and many a time we spent talking about meditation, mindfulness, and nature. I will always remember him as one of my life mentors and teachers. May your Spirit continue to rest in your true nature...
Posted by Brenton Queen on November 13, 2014
I heard John speak on May 20th of 2011, and I havent been the same since. His speaking came from authenticity, and his presence was both powerful and gentle. I found this memorial today while researching "interventionist" training, and I get now that I need to let John speak to me again through his books. Thank you John. I am forever grateful.
Posted by Michael Mcguire on November 12, 2014
Hiya John. I miss you and wish I could ask you some questions. I guess I still can but better be pretty darn good at listening to the wind for an answer. It's fall. Always imagined it to be your favorite time of year. There is only now.
Posted by Martha Decker on November 11, 2014
Dear Ones,
I was corrected when I said it would be "2 years", indeed, it has been 3 years....three turns of the planet around the Sun, three cycles of seasons. It is good to honor this life, this teacher, this friend.
The songs are ones he sang and crooned to for many years...
I spent a long while November 10th downloading photographs I could find that are meaningful for JTE's life. I have others, but they will have to wait.
I just now uploaded many, and have not asked permission, though all passed the "what would John do?" and so they are here...
If anyone has any photos they would like included please send them to me and I shall post them.
Let us continue to honor John by honoring ourselves and each other.
"One step at a time; take it easy; keep at it.
Posted by Rebecca Barboff on November 10, 2014
I was packing up my things from my office & came across some momentos of John's. Many of you will remember this. I still have the little washer on a string tied to my brief case. It came from his activity where he put his ring on a string & showed how important it is to be on the same page. You are missed so very much!
Posted by Martha Decker on January 14, 2014
Today is John's Birthday. This morning I came across his "Advice to Myself", discussed at LPCANC Conference keynote address (9/25/09)
I am going to post these "brief, random bits of advice to myself" he wrote, in "STORIES" for everyone to enjoy. It is wonderful to read these and hear his wisdom and humor, candor and strength. Please click on STORIES above.
Posted by Martha Decker on January 5, 2014
On November 29, 2013, John's family gathered in Fort Valley, Georgia at a Memorial Service honoring John and his sister, Lane, by placing markers in the Oaklawn Cemetery where their mother, father and grandparents are buried. 

On John's marker were the words "Your True Home is Now"

Words of Thoreau, Rumi and Rilke were read and afterwards many gathered there spoke, including one of John's teachers, and his childhood best friend, cousin and "brother" Gene Pearson.

His teacher told a story that while lining up in graduation from high school, she asked, "John, what are you going to do with your life?" whereupon he replied, "I'm going to college and study psychology. She asked him what he was going to do with a degree in psychology, and John said, "open a psychology shop!"

Afterwards, a wonderful reception was held at the ancestral home of their grandparents orchards, where all shared stories and memories including one that remembered how John and Gene used to play in the cemetery where his plaque now resides. Somehow that playful heart was felt enduring even now in Fort Valley. 

With John's lifelong work with Families, it seems fitting to have both John and Lane's representation there now next to his parents and ancestors.
*Click on "Gallery" to see photos.
Posted by Larry Sharpe on November 13, 2013
I miss our monthly dinners and long conversations about new books and new ideas. A day does not go by that I don't think about some aspect of working with families and being a systemic thinker. I continue to be blessed to have your voice with me in my life each day.
Posted by Lewis N. Foster on November 13, 2013
I miss our telephone conversations and enjoy the memory of a fellow Vietnam Vet and teacher that continues to influence my life. I introduce people to you and your book when I do workshops. God's Peace
Posted by Michael Mcguire on November 12, 2013
Hiya John. How is it, really? You continue to help steer me. Thank you.
Posted by Theresa Palmer on November 11, 2013
I was at a national conference last week and saw John's book on display at Wiley's booth. I am so grateful this book was published so his message can continue reaching future therapists. And yesterday I was sitting by our little lake at twilight thinking about John and his wisdom. Nature. Now. Connection. John, your life continues to send ripples through the world.
Posted by Sid Jordan on November 10, 2013
John you are still with us and helping direct things in our family life on this anniversary of your passing. We are having a memorial service for John and Lane in Fort Valley on Friday November 29th 2013. This will provide an opportunity for many of Lane and John's family in Georgia to have an observance of the placing of a memorial plaque for John and Lane beside their parents graves.
Posted by Martha Decker on November 10, 2013
Two years in the passage of what we call time; yet how present John is NOW in strong and impactful ways. I bow to this mystery and give thanks with every breath for John's distinctive spirit. It is a very present LIVING legacy in all who knew him.
Posted by Phillip Maynard on January 16, 2013
Seems like just yesterday I was talking with John about his book. His reply, " I think this will be my swan song". I was puzzled by that comment and went to my house knowing that simply meant the last book he would write. But John was not thinking of retiring, he was thinking of his condition and shortly thereafter left us. His memory still remains with me as we related on many subjects.
Posted by Sid Jordan on January 14, 2013
"On John's birthday I am reminded of how much all of the lives of those he touched have been enhanced by his presence. His presence lives on today in his legacy of love and wisdom of a life well lived. In deepest gratitude, Sid."
Posted by Michael Mcguire on January 14, 2013
Missing you, John.
Posted by Dora Ahmadi on November 18, 2012
A year has passed since you departed this land but not completely for your calm presence remains with us forever.
Posted by Theresa Palmer on November 18, 2012
I was listening to Diane Rehm on NPR interview Wendell Berry the other day and his cadence so reminded me of John. We have all been so very blessed by his presence in our lives!
To listen to Wendell Berry's interview:
Posted by Martha Decker on November 18, 2012
Thanks to Theresa, and what she has shared from Wendell Berry so aptly in connection with John, is posted now in "Stories" for you to hear.
Posted by Martha Decker on November 10, 2012
We are honoring ONE YEAR today.

Your Spirit is Here, so strong, so very clear and present.
We give thanks for your life and breathe into this day and all the days to come with deepest love and appreciation for your continued brilliant legacy that lives on in all of us who knew you.
Posted by Sid Jordan on November 10, 2012
Good Morning John,
On this day I honor your passing and vividly remember your life as my brother. I will be with you as I offer this day of being with families to you. You are part of what I offer, the uninterrupted stream of love that we share. Brothers Always, Sid
Posted by Phillip Maynard on November 10, 2012
I didn't realize it's been a year since John went away. My mother also died a few months afterwards at the age of 92. It seems all my older friends are leaving and I look forward to that journey myself. I think with John, I remember a realist with kindness in the mixture. In this world, that's a hard thing to accomplish. We continue on the other side.
Posted by Martha Decker on May 9, 2012
A Special Event honoring John T. Edwards, Ph.D. was held 5/11/12 at The Children's Home in Winston-Salem, NC. 

A team of colleagues and friends work to create a Foundation honoring Dr. Edwards' legacy of a systems approach to working with families.
Posted by DrGlenda Clare on April 1, 2012
Thank you for offering mentorship and sharing your gifts in regard to working with families with me. Families, nationwide, will benefit because of your life and your commitment to improving family life.
Posted by Davis Broadway on March 19, 2012
John was a special friend at a special time in my life...Helen, Ga. early 70's. A very kind person, always (psycho) analyzing and enjoying the little things in life. I hadn't seen him for almost 30 years but we had talked on the phone for the last 2 years about him visiting me in Helen where I have remained over the years. I wish we could've had that visit.
Posted by Xiaomin Mai on February 15, 2012
John, I am so grateful to the several short meetings and talks with you in Morehead. Your wise advices and warm comfort brightened up my heart. Your spirit will always be with us. We miss you!
Xiaomin Mai ( Cindy)
Posted by Carol Hoffman on January 21, 2012
John touched my life deeply, along with so many of you, personally, professionally. I am so grateful to have known him and his family: my heartfelt condolences to you Lane, Kay, Jill, Sid My heart is hurting, as I just learned of John's death today, but, I agree with his buddhist friends: my pain is my ego's longing, for John is forever, as are we all.
Posted by Martha Decker on January 15, 2012
From Erin Coyle, Carrboro, NC:
"It is only because of our misunderstanding that we think the person we love no longer exists after they "pass away". This is because we are attached to one of the forms, one of the many manifestations of that person. The person we love is still there. He is around us, within us, smiling at us."  ---Thich Nhat Hanh
Posted by Rev. Lisa Tolliver on January 14, 2012
John, I didn't know you long, but I felt I knew you from some deep place in my soul. . . You were with us as wisdom; you still abide with us as peace. And somehow, on your birthday, your spirit is your gift to us. You are giving US the gift! How is that happening?

 I am so grateful for having known you.

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