In Memoriam : Edward Walsh
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Edward Walsh - age: 80
(March 31, 1940 to July 15, 2020 )
Resident of Ukiah, California
A man known for his deep and joyous laugh, the twinkle in his eye, and his big heart, Edward William Walsh, known as “Ned” by all, died peacefully at his home in Ukiah on Wednesday July 15th 2020, surrounded by his loving family.
Ned was born on March 31st 1940 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the elder of two sons, to his parents, Elizabeth Leary and Richard Walsh. Ned was raised in Springfield amongst a large extended Irish Catholic family.
As a young boy, he was an altar boy at Holy Name Church and attended Holy Name Elementary School in Springfield. Later in his life, Ned would often talk about those early years as an altar boy, where he began to experience the joys and sorrows of the human condition, the weddings and the funerals. This deep connection to the inner lives of others shaped his path in the years to come.
Ned’s love of the water began in those early years at his beloved grandmother’s house on Crescent Lake in Enfield, Connecticut. There he spent his summers as a young boy, happily fishing from his own canoe, playing with cousins and friends, and later as a lifeguard at the lake’s beach. Ned would remain in that role, as a “lifeguard”, both in and out of the water, for the rest of his life.
Ned graduated from Classical High School in Springfield and went on to become the first person in his family to attend college. He completed his BS in Psychology at AIC (American International College) in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Ned’s love of music and what he called the “troubadours” also began in his early life. As a college student, he and his friends would drive to New York City for the night for music. He often told a story of stumbling onto a then unknown Bob Dylan in a West Village cafe, and of close encounters with Miles Davis. Ned’s vinyl collection is unparalleled, and he shared his love of music and its transformative power with his family and friends. One of his favorite Dylan lines was simply, “It’s life and life only.”
After college, he was accepted to serve in the Peace Corps. He had wanted to go to India, but instead, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1963 during the Vietnam War. He was stationed at Fort Holabird in Baltimore, Maryland.
After his two years of service in the army, he learned about government grants being awarded to students for completing graduate level degrees in counseling. He applied and was awarded a grant to complete his MA in Rehabilitation Counseling at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
In 1969, prompted by friends who said there was work in San Francisco, Ned left the East Coast and drove his Volvo across the country. He had recently watched “The Graduate”, and imagined himself driving across the Bay Bridge, though in the correct direction, unlike Dustin Hoffman in the film.
He often recalled San Francisco in those days as “feeling like a foreign country,” but was always very clear that he was not a hippie because “he always had a job.”
He began working for the Department of Rehabilitation in Oakland, and went on to work for the San Francisco County Alcoholism Program as a Rehabilitation Counselor. While working at Laguna Honda Hospital, he met his mentor and lifelong friend, the late psychiatrist and author, Arthur Deikman. His work with Deikman led to his interest in the writings of the late Idries Shah, which would go on to shape the rest of Ned’s life. Anyone who knew Ned well has likely heard him tell a Nasrudin teaching story, or been given a book by Shah, as Ned loved to share his interests and what he had learned with others.
Ned met his beloved wife Suzanne (Suzy) in San Francisco in 1969. They lived in the Richmond District of San Francisco, where their two children, Jonah and Sarah, were born.
In 1979, Ned and Suzy decided to move to the country to raise their family. They had discovered Ukiah on camping trips out on Pine Ridge Road in the late 60’s, and moved to Ukiah when a job became available at the Department of Public Health. Ned worked as the Drug and Alcohol Administrator for the Mendocino County Public Health Department for 26 years, where he grew the program from a small staff of 3 to its large staff of 60 when he retired.
Ned was proud of his work and deeply committed to connecting with his clients and colleagues in meaningful ways. He was always interested in helping others and was infinitely generous with his time. He believed in talk therapy; he really knew how to listen to others, and understood the power of making people feel heard.
A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, some of his greatest joys came from seeing his children explore the world and finding themselves in it. Summers spent with family and friends on the Russian River in Healdsburg, spending time at his treasured “ranch” on Pine Ridge Road, and exploring the California wilderness with his “Mendo Men” friends were some of his greatest pleasures.
Ned reveled in the natural world. He enjoyed watching leaves dancing in the trees and light glistening on river water; those details he taught his children and grandchildren to appreciate too.
Ned is survived by his wife, Suzanne; his children, Jonah and Sarah; his son-in-law, Fergus; his grandchildren, Nadia, Fiona, and Dylan; his brother, Rick; extended dear family members; and a wide circle of friends in California and New England.
In her prize winning essay titled “Ned the Helper,” Ned’s granddaughter Fiona wrote, “A lot of people helped my grandfather, and when he grew up, he became somebody who helped others too. My grandpa’s job was helping people who are sad.”
A celebration of Ned’s life will be held at his ranch on Pine Ridge outside of Ukiah at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, and in honor of Ned’s generous life, donations may be made in his name to the Mendocino College Ned Walsh Alcohol and Other Drug Studies (AODS) Program Student Scholarship at:
For questions, please call the Mendocino College Foundation at: (707) 467-1018
Donations may also be made in his memory to the Friends of the Drug Court Fund, a program he was deeply committed to for its support of treatment options rather than incarceration for drug offenses.
For questions about the Friends of the Drug Court fund, please call (707) 468-9882 Ext: 107
From one of the last books Ned read, Gratitude by Oliver Sacks:
My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.
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