Special to the Tribune
I'm so glad to have had a good visit with former Prescott Valley Police Chief and Councilman Ed Seder a couple of weeks before he passed away last Tuesday.
While we sat in his hospital room talking, reminiscing and laughing, he was obviously suffering some pain. But he talked about his upcoming semi-retirement as Administration of Justice Program Coordinator at Yavapai College, and about his plans for the future. He was eager to get on with his life. This was a strong man who knew how to fight, but who also knew how to put his life in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he dearly loved.
Ed wasn't ashamed of his faith. As longtime friend and Yavapai College Chief of Police Joe Cappelli said, Ed "walked the walk," as much as he talked the talk. I interviewed him in 2008 after he had recovered from his latest bout of cancer. He told me of a wonderful experience he had during a procedure in the hospital.
He said doctors were having a difficult time, and had walked away from his bed to consult. Apprehensive himself, Ed said he simply prayed, "Jesus, please hold my hand." He said, "There was no one else around that table, but I literally felt someone take my hand. After that, everything was OK, no matter what happened." Even people who did not share Ed's faith recognized his devotion.
I met Ed when I came on staff at the Prescott Valley Tribune in 1989. I was as green as they come. Armed with notebook and camera, I descended on the PV Police Department. I made my share of really dumb mistakes, but Ed took me under his wing and patiently helped me to get it right, time and time again.
Of course, some of those "times" were downright exciting. I'd hear something on the scanner, show up, and ask Ed, "Can I ride along?" "Sure, hop in," he'd say, and off we'd go.
In Prescott Valley's infancy, Ed gave me unprecedented access to the Police Department, and because he did, I learned quickly, and we had a mutual relationship of trust, even when things went wrong. A large part of that was because he had nothing to hide. The department was an open book. I later nominated Ed for an Arizona Newspapers Association Freedom of Information award, which he won.
I did get one back on Ed for some of my early experiences on those ridealongs. One April Fool's Day, my common sense went on holiday, and I cooked up an elaborate prank with two officers - Tom Carney and current Sgt. Scott Stebbins. Knowing that he was a stickler for stellar public conduct from his officers, I called Ed from my office and said, "Um, Chief? Isn't it true that you require your officers to conduct themselves with professionalism, especially when they are in uniform, representing Prescott Valley?"
Ed answered in his most chiefly tone of voice that bode trouble for offenders. I told him that I had received a call from a citizen who informed me they saw Carney and Stebbins, in uniform, eating grapes right off the displays at Costco. As the sound of grinding teeth came over the phone, I set the hook. "I just thought you would want to know, rather than have me write this up in the paper..."
Tom and Scott were in my office, chortling merrily, when they got a call from Commander Laura Molinaro to make haste back to the station. I tagged along, naturally. When we walked into Laura's office, she literally had steam coming out of her ears. Tom and Scott stood at attention as she began to fire questions. Meanwhile, I'm leaping up and down behind them trying to get her attention. Finally I just yelled, "APRIL FOOLS!!!!" Laura sputtered to a halt, looked at the three of us, and spat, "Then you'd better march down the hall and explain that to the chief!"
We sheepishly filed into Ed's office. I felt pretty proud of myself. I thought he'd laugh. He just continued to stare, and stare. I could feel Tom and Scott trembling beside me, no doubt wondering if their careers were coming to an end, when finally, blessedly, Ed cracked a grin. Then he laughed. We nearly passed out from relief.
The next April Fool's Day, I made sure I was out of town.
To say Ed made an impact on my life is an understatement. I'm a better person for having known him, and I know I'm certainly not alone in that sentiment.
Ed Seder was at once honorable, professional, encouraging, motivating, courageous, loving and inspiring. To say I will miss him is an understatement.
Heidi Dahms Foster is editorial manager, non-daily publications for Prescott Newspapers, Inc.