Edwards, dental professional, dies

Posted on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 10:37 am

Evelyn Marie Edwards, 58, of Shelbyville, a native of Lincoln County, passed away Monday (Nov. 19, 2012) at Adams Place in Murfreesboro after a brief battle with diabetes and a stroke.

Memorial service was held Saturday at First United Methodist Church with Dr. Lloyd Doyle and the Revs. David Adams and Jon Bell officiating.

Evelyn was born April 9, 1954, in Fayetteville to Nola Gill McGee of Fayetteville and the late Reager McGee.

Evelyn grew up in Fayetteville. She graduated from the expanded function dental hygiene program in the School of Allied Health at Vanderbilt University in 1975. She had 38 years of experience in both private practice (13 years) and public health (25 years). Evelyn worked in the school-based dental sealant program in the South Central region.

Evelyn worked in public schools helping all children improve their oral health. She conducted a wide variety of preventive dental programs including application of dental sealants, oral health education, screening and referral programs, teacher in-service training and community health fairs. During her 25 years of service to public health, she has educated tens of thousands of children, sealed countless amounts of teeth and improved the overall health of two generations of Tennessee’s children. Tennessee was the first state in the U.S. to have school-based sealant programs. Evelyn was the dental hygienist who placed sealants in some of the early programs in the 1970′s.

In 2008, Evelyn became a hygienist for Dr. James Clark in Shelbyville.

Evelyn helped write Oral Health: A Guide for Tennessee Teachers, a teacher resource manual that was placed in all schools in Tennessee. She also co-authored and edited the Oral Health Services Section’s Preventive Oral Health Guidelines, which serves as the reference for public health preventive dental programs in Tennessee. For several years, Evelyn served on a program committee for the Department of Health’s annual Oral Health Conference. She served on a committee of dental public health professionals who developed an Internet website by authoring fact sheets for adults, activity sheets for children, and guidelines and information for dental professional.

Evelyn served on a statewide committee to develop and implement an annual poster contest in which third and fourth grade students, throughout Tennessee, could promote the principles of good oral health through their artwork. The Smile! Tennessee poster contest was a great success and culminated in an awards ceremony each year in the State Capital.

In 2002, Evelyn received the Colgate National Community Outreach Award from the American Dental Hygienists Association. This award was presented to her at their national meeting in California. She was selected as the recipient for her work in developing a smokeless tobacco program to use with middle and high school students in Tennessee schools.

As the anti-fluoridation issue grew in Tennessee over the past several years, Evelyn had attended numerous local utility district meetings and prepared information on the benefit of community water fluoridation. In January 2006, Evelyn gave testimony at a Tennessee General Assembly legislative hearing regarding the public health benefits of community water fluoridation.

Evelyn had been a member of TPHA since 1978, having served on the registration, nominations and bylaws committees. This year, she chaired the poster session committee. In addition, she is a past chairperson and board representative from the Dental Section. Evelyn is past president of the Tennessee 2006 Dental Hygienist Association and currently served on their Board of Trustees. She received their Dental Health Educator of the Year Award in 2002 and again in 2005.

Evelyn was also a member of the Tennessee Academy of Dental Hygiene, an organization which promotes continuing education and provides scholarship opportunities and served as president of that organization. She was appointed by the governor to a three-year term to the Board of Dentistry in March 2001 as one of two Dental Hygiene members.

In addition to her mother, she is survived by her husband, Bill Edwards, of Shelbyville; two sons, Chuck Edwards, and his wife, Tavia, and Joey Edwards, and his wife, Brooke, all of Shelbyville; six grandchildren, Palmer Edwards, Reager Edwards, Griffin Edwards, Harlee Holton, Brady Edwards and Riley Sissom.

Memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association or to a scholarship set up at Heritage South Credit Union to help future dental hygiene students.

Feldhaus Memorial Chapel assisted the family with the arrangements.

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