Obituary of Dr. Edward C. Lehman Jr.
In Memory of
Dr. Edward Charles Lehman, Jr.
June 5, 1931 - July 19, 2019
Ed was born in Providence, Rhode Island; his father was a German immigrant who worked as a chauffeur, his mother was from Sweden and worked in a jewelry factory. After high school, Ed decided to join the Navy; he applied shortly after enlisting to be a pilot and was quickly accepted. Thus began a military experience, including flying planes on/off aircraft carriers, that shaped Ed's young adulthood helping him realize he was "smart" (a revelation for someone who almost flunked out of high school) and that he could succeed at anything he set his mind to.
While in the Navy, Ed was stationed in Memphis and met his bride-to-be, Johnnie Walker, at church Wednesday night prayer meetings. Johnnie was from a sharecropper's family in rural Wesson, Mississippi and attending nursing school in Memphis—so an unlikely union began in 1953—a "Yankee" and a "Southerner", whose love and partnership took them on remarkable journeys together for the rest of their lives.
Ed entered aeronautical engineering school for a short period of time, and flew planes for crop dusting in Louisiana during the summers. He then decided to enter the seminary, and was a pastor for a small Baptist church in North Carolina for a couple of years. Ed left the ministry to return to graduate school and earned his doctorate in sociology from Mississippi State University on the GI Bill. Ed's first teaching positions took him to University of North Carolina, Raleigh, followed by University of Missouri, St. Louis, before accepting a position with SUNY Brockport in 1970.
Ed's academic and scholarly achievements were impressive. He served multiple times as Chair of the SUNY Brockport Sociology Department; his specialty was Sociology of Religion and Research Methods. Ed served as President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion for two years, and as editor for its journal. He conducted research while on sabbaticals in England and Australia on Women in the Ministry that resulted in several published books. Ed's proudest academic achievement was being named a Distinguished Teaching Professor (since he viewed teaching students as his primary responsibility). In retirement, Ed thoroughly enjoyed staying connected to his colleagues and the campus community.
Ed was an avid sailor, loved to play tennis for many years, and enjoyed biking. In fact for many years, Ed biked to campus every day for work (8 miles each way); he and Johnnie graduated to 3 wheel trikes upon retirement and were often seen biking around town. His favorite pastime in his later years, however, was woodturning. Ed became widely known for his turnings (giant salad bowls, platters, vases, spreaders, letter openers, candlesticks…), and was often commissioned by members of the Brockport community and his family to create one of his masterpieces. He frequently contributed to the Candlelight Christmas show at the Morgan Manning House, often "selling out" all of his turnings in the first few minutes. Ed would often bring small turning gifts to leave with people he met on his and Johnnie's world travels, as a thank you for small kindnesses received.
Ed and Johnnie traveled to every continent, including Antarctica, and extensively throughout the US and Canada. Their travels included a special trip for each of their grandchildren when they turned 12, which included a Caribbean Cruise, a Safari in Tanzania, and a trip to Scandinavia and Paris. Ed and Johnnie were delighted to host their many friends and colleagues from around the world (England, Australia and Tanzania in particular) as they visited Brockport during trips to the US; "Ed and Johnnie Lehman hospitality" was a hallmark of deep friendships.
Ed and Johnnie were long-time members of the First Baptist Church in Brockport, and served in many capacities. They led a life of generosity and compassion for those in poverty and need, locally and around the world. They supported educational institutions, environmental causes, political movements and religious organizations throughout their lives.
Ed serves as a role model for each of us—a life fully lived, with joy and selflessness. He loved his family and was so incredibly proud of his wife, children and grandchildren. He loved his friends, his community, his country and his God.
Ed's family is deeply grateful for the quality care Ed received in these final few years—from his doctors, to local hospitals, to his home companions and to his assisted living family. Ed was blessed to be surrounded by people who truly cared for him, and who kept him safe, comfortable and happy.
A Memorial Service is scheduled for 10:30am September 21, 2019 at the First Baptist Church in Brockport, NY (124 Main Street); a Life Celebration Luncheon Reception will follow at 12:00noon, Cooper Hall, SUNY Brockport (108-148 Adams Street, Brockport). All friends of Ed and the Lehman/Sokol Family are cordially invited to attend.
Options for consideration, in lieu of flowers, if you wish to make a contribution in honor of Ed:
Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI), Rochester
422 S Clinton Avenue
Rochester, NY 14620
Please make checks payable to ABVI - Rochester, or click here to donate online:
The Memory Care Residences at Cottage Grove
48 Cottage Grove Circle
North Chili, NY 14514
Please make checks payable to Rochester Presbyterian Home, or click here to donate online:
340 West Ave Brockport, NY 14420
Phone: ( 585 ) 637-6100