A wonderful person, a great activist and a true organizer has died. Edie Wilkie had a superb career in Washington, DC educating and organizing Members of Congress on behalf of a progressive national security policy.
She also was a dear and loyal friend.
The executive director of Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus from 1978 to 1995, Edie worked with many activist Members of Congress of both houses and both parties. The Caucus was a bipartisan organization of 150 members of the U.S. Senate and House who worked together on foreign policy initiatives.
She previously worked as Chief of Staff for Rep. Fortney (Pete) Stark (D-CA), who is still in Congress, and Rep. Ogden R. Reid (R-NY).
Whether it was opposition to the Vietnam War, the nuclear freeze, ending funding for proxy wars in Central America, strengthening human rights around the globe, arms control or the military budget, Edie was always effective in ensuring that the progressive position was well represented in votes, Dear Colleague letters and speeches.
She also had reasoned judgments and good advice to all with whom she worked. She was effective in both the inside game and the outside game with Congress.
After leaving the Caucus, Edie remained active by serving on the boards of directors of Council for a Livable World and Council’s PeacePAC, Ploughshares Fund and the Center for International Policy.
Her obituary is below:
Wilkie-Edwards promoted world peace, loved Edgewater home
By BECKY BALTIMORE, Staff Writer
Capital Gazette Communications
Edith “Edie” Wilkie Edwards, peace promoter and arms control activist, former congressional staff member and wife of retired California Congressman Don Edwards, died Thursday in Carmel, Calif. of pulmonary disease. She was 64.
Her husband, a 32-year congressman who represented San Jose, Calif, and chaired the Civil and Constitutional Rights Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, survives her.
The couple retired from powerful Capitol Hill careers in 1995 and for more than a decade lived half the year at Holly Point, their home overlooking the Chesapeake Bay in Edgewater and half the year in Carmel. They settled in Carmel the past three years.
“She absolutely loved living on the Chesapeake Bay and their home at Holly Point, with a wonderful view,” said longtime friend Terence Smith of Shady Side. Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated, retired New York Times, CBS News, and PBS political journalist.
“Edith and Don were often seen on their Boston Whaler on the West River,” Smith recalled. “She will be terribly missed by many and had a wide circle of friends in and around Edgewater and the Chesapeake Bay.”
“She was an avid tennis player, as well, with a forehand her opponents considered lethal,” Smith added.
In her career, however, she promoted peace. Known professionally as Edith Wilkie, she directed Congress’ bipartisan and bicameral Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus from 1978 to 1995. She worked to halt the development of new nuclear weapons, end funding for proxy wars in Central America, garner congressional support for the United Nations and strengthen human rights around the globe.
Wilkie also is survived by five stepsons; a sister and two brothers, Rennie Wilkie Lieber, John McNeil Wilkie and Peter Wilkie, and their families, as well as her stepmother, Margot Loines Wilkie, of New York and Martha’s Vineyard and two stepsisters, Faith Morrow Williams and Constance Morrow Fullenweider and their families.
Smith said a memorial service is being planned for early May in Carmel. Another service is possible in Washington, although no date has been set.
Memorial contributions in remembrance of Wilkie may be made to the Ploughshares Fund, at www.ploughshares.org, the largest grantmaking foundation in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to security and peace funding. Its goal is to create a safe, secure, nuclear weapon-free world.
In 2009, after serving fourteen years on the Ploughshares Fund board of directors, Wilkie’s colleagues established the first-ever grant program at Ploughshares Fund honoring an individual – The Edith B. Wilkie Grant for Conflict Prevention and Peacekeeping.
Remembering Edie Wilkie
Ploughshares Fund – Posted on Apr 1 2011 10:05 am
April 1, 2011
The Ploughshares Fund family has lost a dear friend and source of uncommon wisdom, knowledge and leadership. Edith B. Wilkie died peacefully March 31, 2011, surrounded by friends and family.
In 2009, after serving fourteen years on the Ploughshares Fund board of directors, Edie’s colleagues established the first-ever grant program at Ploughshares Fund honoring an individual – The Edith B. Wilkie Grant for Conflict Prevention and Peacekeeping. In 2010 that grant was awarded to Crisis Group for its on-the-ground reporting and national advocacy on South Asia.
Edie was a pioneer in exploring the military’s role in peacebuilding, in addition to having served as a congressional staff member from 1968 to 1995. For sixteen years she directed Congress’ bipartisan Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus, and she created the Congressional Roundtable on U.S.-Soviet Relations with grants from Ploughshares Fund.
Edie will be deeply missed by all who were fortunate to have known and worked with her.