Raynard Edwards, 70, fixed electric appliances

April 10, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Electronics and bartending were Raynard Edwards' favorite vocations, and few days passed that he didn't engage in both.

Friends said that Mr. Edwards, 70, who died Friday of heart failure at his Southwest Baltimore home, could wire anything from a car's electrical system to computers to the most ornate Christmas displays.

Mr. Edwards worked for many years at an appliance repair shop on West North Avenue where he fixed items as varied as Victrolas, compact disc players and electric shavers six days a week.

Although he didn't own the business, he was the sole employee. He retired about five years ago and did repair work from his home -- providing service for nearly all of his old customers from the North Avenue store.

"Everyone always told him to get his own thing, his own business," said Kenny Holmes, a friend and customer. "He was the reason for the business even being there. He did all of the work, brought in all of the customers, opened and closed the joint every day."

In the basement of Mr. Edwards' Irvington rowhouse, he kept a large array of electrical parts stripped from discarded appliances he found during his regular "scavenger hunts" in city alleys and parks.

Shelves on the walls were lined with old, worn appliances with frayed ends and gaps from missing pieces. Because of the old parts, he told friends, he seldom had to buy new electrical parts for repairs.

"The funny thing is that he found old parts to work in the new stuff," said Clarence Harris, a friend who recalled seeing Mr. Edwards fix a can opener with the motor parts from a fan.

"He'd experiment, trying to find that one right part. If he couldn't find it and had to buy one, he'd really be mad -- even if it only cost a couple of dollars."

Known for his fast repair service, Mr. Edwards offered his customers a handwritten guarantee: "I promise that you'll never need to bring this [the item] back ever again. That's a fact."

A native of Baltimore, Mr. Edwards graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1944 and served in the Army from 1946 to 1949. He attended the former Morgan State College and later graduated from RETS Electronics School. Yet, he learned much of his electrical repairs by experimenting, friends said.

He also learned bartending through experiments. He was known for his whiskey sour concoction -- the one where "you'd better make sure the cab is waiting," one friend recalled.

"Whenever there was a party, we made sure he was there for the drinks," said Cynthia White, a longtime friend and one-time fiancee. "He was the ultimate mixer and could make one as strong or as mild as needed."

He worked as a part-time bartender at the old Bird's Nest on Edmondson Avenue for many years and in recent years worked at private parties.

And, although Mr. Edwards never mixed bartending and electrical work, he mixed many a drink for his appliance customers.

"He didn't ever take a sip while at work because with electrical work you've got to have your full senses," Ms. White said.

Services were held yesterday.

He is survived by two sons, Raymond Edwards of Catonsville and Reginald Edwards of Baltimore; a daughter, Regina Edwards Mays of New York; a brother, Otis Edwards of New York; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 4/10/97

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