Edwin J. Wadas, affectionately known as “Uncle Ed” by the thousands of student athletes, coaches and school administrators in Oneida and Herkimer Counties that knew him or encountered him on an athletic field, was a truly remarkable individual. The Latin phrase – “Suis Generis” (one-of-a-kind) was seemingly created with him in mind.
EDWIN J. WADAS (1926-2018)
Ed was born in New York Mills and attended Whitesboro High School. After serving in the United States Army in World War II, Ed returned to New York Mills and to the home in which he was born and where he would spend the bulk of his adult life. Ed’s intelligence,hard work, focus on efficiency, frugality and self-discipline (except when it came to ice cream with his home-grown berries on top), soon resulted in remarkable success as an entrepreneur, real estate developer and investor. As a self-taught and self-directed investor, Ed displayed uncanny insight into market trends and undervalued companies. This, together with Ed’s legendary frugality, soon made him financially secure and independent.
Ed then turned his focus and attention to his true passion – volunteering at youth sporting events and using his personal financial resources to support and enhance youth athletic programs in Oneida and Herkimer Counties. For over 60 years Ed volunteered as a scorekeeper, announcer, statistician, track and field official and in every other possible capacity in his selfless desire to help young athletes succeed and realize the benefits of participation in athletic programs. Ed was an outstanding role model and never passed up an opportunity to emphasize sportsmanship, respect for opponents and officials, and the value of hard work to all the young athletes he encountered. Ed often expressed admiration and respect for certain student athletes that he called “scrubeenies” – those who lacked natural athletic gifts and as a result experienced little playing time – but nevertheless worked hard in practice, displayed unwavering and selfless commitment to team success and never complained.
Although he made countless donations – small and large – to youth athletic programs in Oneida and Herkimer Counties for many decades, Ed neither sought nor accepted accolades, recognition or praise. Indeed, Ed made continued and significant efforts to ensure that his donations were made anonymously. The act of giving, together with the joy brought to student athletes thereby, was Ed’s reward.
In 1990, Ed’s desire to apply his substantial financial resources to continue supporting and enhancing youth athletic programs after his death resulted in the formation of the Edwin J. Wadas Foundation, Inc. Ed served as President and a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for 28 years. Ed’s vision for the Foundation, together with his significant investment expertise and market insights, were largely responsible for the success and thriving operation of the Foundation during his lifetime. Utilizing donations and contributions made exclusively by Ed, since 1990 the Foundation has made scores of substantial enhancement grants to school districts and other qualifying entities and has awarded annual college and post-high school/vocational education scholarships to Oneida and Herkimer County student athletes.
Upon his death in 2018, Ed entrusted the Foundation to continue, in perpetuity, the legacy of his lifelong efforts to support and enhance youth athletic programs.