Edward William Gronroos passed away on Jan. 20, 2018, in his home. Many will remember him as Bill Edwards, a local radio personality for years in Brunswick. Or perhaps you may remember, “They don’t shoot hogs in McIntosh County,” a humorous local hit song. Or maybe you recall a sock hop at BHS with a band call Jett; Bill was the lead guitarist. If you visited Woolworth’s in the late 80s or early 90s, the person you heard over the loudspeaker as the voice of Woolworth’s was Bill. He later worked for the local post office before encountering heart troubles and having to retire.
Bill was all of these and more. In recent years, Bill could be seen around Brunswick with his faithful dog, Nick. Nick was appropriately sporting the correct sash or cape for the season. Bill was also a loving nephew and cousin, stepping in where he could to assist in others’ health issues. As noted above, Bill was a very accomplished musician, mainly guitar and vocals. He was also a gifted artist, leaving many drawings and sketches, some of which are posted on his memorial Facebook site.
Bill’s friend Bob Smith posted a tribute to Bill on his blog, “Til the Last Hemlock Dies.” Following are some excerpts from that blog.
“… I used to refer to Bill as ‘rabbi of rock.’ He had an almost supernatural knowledge of rock and pop music. Personalities, dates, writers, producers, agents, earnings, chart positions, tour dates — you name it. Whenever I had a question about any kind of 20th century pop music, Bill could answer it. Last week I asked him the title of a Statler Brothers song giving him only vague hints and he reminded me that the tune was ‘This Haunted Old House.’
I met Bill through a shared love of comic books when I moved to Brunswick, Georgia, in 1975 after graduating high school. He came into my dad’s shop to sell some old comics that he had from his childhood. From there we struck up a friendship that lasted to his death.
When I met Bill, he was a DJ on a local radio station in town. His love of rock music had dictated that he would be a musician and he was an exceptionally talented guitarist. I only saw him perform once at an oldies show in town and was amazed at his proficiency, nailing Bill Haley tunes perfectly. …
Over the years, Bill had many opportunities to leave … Brunswick, … For some reason that I could never fathom, he was hooked permanently … and would not leave it, except for brief excursions. Now and again, Carole and I would invite him to visit us, to join us on camping trips, or to take him canoeing and tubing down clear crystal rivers in Florida. We enjoyed his company. Easily, far and away, he was one of the funniest people I ever knew.
… We’ll miss him terribly.”
Another friend of Bill’s, Eric Cravey, also posted a blog and here is a sample of that one.
“ … Bill was a friend of mine. We first met on St. Patrick’s Day 1987, my first day on the job at WGIG AM-FM in Brunswick, Georgia. On the air, he was known as Bill Edwards, because he just thought it was catchier than Gronroos ….
In his career, he would go on to spend hundreds of hours on the air, make hundreds, if not thousands, of radio commercials and even get to do some freelancing with the big boys at one point in his life. … I remember walking through the old Woolworth’s at Regency Square Mall one time and hearing Bill on the overhead speakers advertising Woolworth products. It made me smile.
… while thinking, I’m reminded of my mother. Bill had something in common with my mother.
As a kid, back in the day when people used to ‘drop by for a visit,’ no one would leave my Mama’s house with empty hands. …
Bill was like that. Every time we’d connect, whether in Brunswick or in Jacksonville, he’d bring me some sort of gift. It would range from a book to a DVD or a bootlegged CD or album. And each time, I’d gratefully accept and feel like a heel for not reciprocating. No quid pro quo was expected. …
An only child, Bill’s first cousins were like siblings, rather close and always in constant communication. Last year, when his cousin Amy died of breast cancer, he sadly told me that he was beginning to see a lot of people his age die and I could tell he was saddened and concerned …
And, as I grow older, I know like Bill, I will see ‘people around my age’ pass away. I also realize, I have a lot of phone calls to catch up on.”
A memorial service for Bill will be held at 1 p.m. on April 20 in Palmetto Cemetery, and officiated by the Reverend Don Combs. Following the service, there will be a gathering of friends and family at Lakeside United Methodist Church.
Bill is survived by his aunt Edna Lazaro; maternal first cousin, Connie Godley; first cousins, Rocky Joyner, Eddy Joyner, Michael Sutton, Mauri Lazaro, Jes Sutton and many other friends and family. He is preceded in death by his mother, Clara Gronroos; his father, E. W. Gronroos; aunts, Ovieda Joyner and Lucy Sutton; uncles, Sonny Joyner and Jerry Lazaro; and cousin, Amy Putnam.