Edward A. Chazal Jr., 78, passed away on Sept. 11 in Birmingham, Ala., after a short illness resulting from complications from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the debilitating central nervous system disease he had endured for nearly 25 years. His close, loving family, to which he was so devoted, will long cherish memories of his generosity, intelligence, faith, humor, and optimistic can-do approach to life.
A funeral Mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Church (Hoover, Ala.) Friday, September 17, 2021 at 10:15 am will remember Ed and celebrate his remarkable well-traveled life, filled with accomplishment and adventure, as well as friends from all over the world. The family will receive friends from 9:15 am to 10:15 am at the church. Burial to follow at Alabama National Cemetery (Montevallo) at 12:30 pm.
Born Sept. 7, 1943 in Ft. Benning (GA) to Marjorie Bay Chazal and U.S. Army Col. Edward Amedee Chazal Sr, who preceded him in death, Ed leaves behind his wife of 52 years, the former Susan Bordenca of Birmingham, and his girls Aimee McMillin (Zack) of Memphis and Lauren Mann (Charles) of Birmingham, as well as the four grandchildren he adored: Ian McMillin, George Mann, Lena McMillin and Virginia Mann. He also leaves his sister Jenifer Chazal Watson of Cruzet, Va., and her husband Jimmie as well as his nieces and nephews. His in-laws, Mary Ellen and Ralph Edwards, moved to Birmingham to live nearby.
Described as “Easy Ed, the man with the plan” in a college annual, he learned early in life how to navigate any situation and negotiate any circumstance. His father’s autobiography details scenes in post-war Japan of six-year-old Edward serving as family interpreter and delighting marketplace crowds by bargaining (in Japanese) for a drum (he grew up to love folk music).
Ed continued the family tradition of service to country, graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1965, a path followed by a nephew, Jim Watson, now a retired USCG Rear Admiral who fondly recalls visiting his “cool” Uncle Ed when the Academy welcomed President Kennedy for lunch on the famed USCGC Eagle. Jim and many other friends and family also recall riding with Ed in his beloved 1964 MGB convertible, which featured in the story of the fateful blind date with Susan.
Their courtship led to a trusted relationship rooted in love and genuine admiration for one another. After marrying in June 1969, Ed and Susan moved to Ann Arbor, where each earned graduate degrees from the University of Michigan (Ed also later earned a degree in management as a Sloan Fellow at MIT). Much of Ed’s 20-year Coast Guard career was spent in the metro D.C. area, where he and Sue began raising their family before he joined International Paper and moved them to Hilton Head Island, S.C. His IP career included real estate development (Haig Point on Daufuskie Island, S.C.), plant management (Bay Minette, Ala.), marketing (Container Division in Memphis) and executive leadership (VP of Masonite in Chicago). After his diagnosis of MS in 1997, Ed and Susan retired in 2000 to Birmingham.
Ed is remembered for his humility -- a man of many accomplishments who never bragged and never put himself higher than anyone who worked with him or for him. No matter how important the meeting, he always stepped out to take the call from one of his girls -- including the much-recalled incident when Aimee hooked an alligator in a Sea Pines lagoon while fishing with Lauren’s brand-new rod-and-reel (called out of a meeting, Ed reacted: “Holy Gravy!”).
Ed could build anything, fix anything, and do anything he set his mind to–until MS took that away. A recreational pilot. An engineer. A restorer of MGs. He loved golf, including building his own clubs, and was an avid football fan, long loyal to the Michigan Wolverines before becoming devoted to the Alabama Crimson Tide. He documented cherished family times and travels on slides and home movies, and family will continue to enjoy some of his favorite foods for years to come, most especially chicken with artichoke hearts, a good steak (the rare side of rare), great wine (Silver Oak cabernet) and, of course, sour cherry pie. (His love of lamb kidneys is not part of this legacy.)
The family is deeply grateful to Jonathan Rutan and Tanya Solomon for their many years of friendship and devoted care of Ed. Sincere appreciation goes to the Medical West medical team, especially staffers Kristy, Melche and Kim and Drs. Fryrear, Hazariwala, Kitchens and Postma, for how they cared for him with respect and dedication during the last few difficult weeks.
Ed’s favorite saying, one he often used to rouse his annoyed daughters from sleep, was “Time and tide wait for no man.” This tide has rolled out, and we have faith that Ed is made whole and at peace, enjoying “fair winds and following seas.”
In lieu of flowers, please direct memorials to helping the National MS Society find a cure and better treatments, https://mssociety.donordrive.com/campaign/Edward-Chazal