The death of Vinal Edwards, one of the oldest and most respected citizens of
Woods Hole occured suddenly at his home on School Street, Saturday,
April 5, 1919. Although his health had been failing for some time, his
death was unexpected. His age was 79 years and 16 days.
He was the son of Benjamin and Eleanor Edwards and was born in Woods Hole March
19, 1840 in the same house in which he died. At the time of his death he had
the distinction of being the oldest employee of the U.S Buerau of Fisheries in
the United States. He was in the service of the United States Government since
he was 17 years of age.
Workers in science who are wont to visit Wood's Hole during the summer
months will miss the familiar figure and kindly greeting of one who has
been identified with every piece of faunistic work that has been
carried on at the Fish Commission Laboratory since the time of Baird,
and one whose wide range of activity, intimate knowledge absolute
reliability and willingness to serve have made him a most valuable
source of information and assistance to those connected with the
Marine Laboratory " since the time of its foundation. Vinal N.
Edwards, in the continuous service of the government for over sixty
years, died on April 5, 1919, and leaves vacant a place in the vital
affairs of Wood's Hole that can not be filled. If a young enthusiast
felt that by early rising he might steal an advantage over other
collaborators, his arrival at " the commission " found Vinal already
hard at work. If a trip was made to the gulf stream, Vinal was the man
that knew when, where and how to gain profit out of the expedition. If
it were a quiet night, ideal for "skimming." it was Vinal's skiff that
was moving silenty among the slicks. Throughout the day, in the
corridors of the laboratories, on the wharf or at the traps it made no
difference where probably no sentence was more frequently heard than "I
don't know, ask Vinal."
Untaught in the modern conception of the word, courteous in his manner,
umnentioned in "Who's Who," unrecorded in "American men of Science"
here was a man remarkably well informed, courteous and friendly in his
association with men, well known to a multitude of educators, and one
upon whom many of the foremost workers in biological science relied for
information and advice. It is probable that hundreds of new species
have resulted from his activities as a collector. In Verrill's report
on the invertebrates of Vinyard Sound, his name is repeatedly mentioned
Smith's paper on the fishes of the Woods Hole region would
have been impossible without his help, and those who were associated in
the preparation and publication of the "Biological Survey of the Waters
of Wood's Hole and Vicinity " frequenty stated that one of the motives
which originally prompted this work was the "desire to incorporate in a
permanent form the valuable but unpublished data in the possession of
this indefatigable collector and observer."