Remembering the Legacy of Lloyd Edwards

Lloyd A. Edwards II

February 16, 1939 – September 14, 2023 

Lloyd Edwards, civic leader, entrepreneur and co-founder of the Lew Edwards Group, died at home in Oakland, California on September 14, 2023, at age 84.  

Mr. Edwards had a long and diverse career in media, community affairs, and the private sector, where he broke numerous racial barriers as a person of mixed Black and Native American ancestry. 

Together with his wife, Catherine Lew, in 1997, Mr. Edwards founded the Lew Edwards Group, a nationally recognized, award-winning political consulting, and communications firm dedicated to improving the quality of life in California communities. The Lew Edwards Group remains the only Black/Native American-and Asian American owned political consulting firm with a state-wide, transformational impact on public revenue generation. 

Mr. Edwards preferred to work behind-the-scenes as the Managing Founder of the firm, with Ms. Lew serving as the Principal Consultant. He brought his media savvy to the successful adoption of ballot measures that generated over $42 Billion in revenue benefiting local schools and community colleges, preserving and expanding crucial city services, and electing over 100 candidates including California Assemblymembers, County Supervisors, City Council and School Board members. His favorite campaign over the years was Measure N – and its 2023 extension, Measure H – which created jobs and college opportunities for Oakland students. 

A serial entrepreneur, in the 1970s, Mr. Edwards owned two media companies – Golden Gate Broadcasting (KMPX-San Francisco) and Northstar Broadcasting (KFOX - Seattle) – where he was an advocate for public programming.   At Golden Gate Broadcasting, he collaborated with community leaders to develop a strong news and public affairs department, and with advocacy groups to retain the station’s big band radio format.  

Mr. Edwards began his media career as a Bay Area broadcaster, writer, and producer at the Golden West Network and KSFO, covering local politics, the state legislature, and local affairs. At KSFO, he broke the color barrier for broadcasters by walking in and boldly offering to work for $1 per hour to show he had what it took to succeed. In his tenure, he interviewed Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. during his bid for President, and former Governor Ronald Reagan, among others. 

In 1971 Mr. Edwards co-founded and became Chairman of the Board of Directors of First Enterprise, a community-oriented Bay Area independent bank specializing in small businesses and real estate loans. First Enterprise was the first Black-owned bank in Northern California and was dedicated to empowering and serving the Black community. Before founding First Enterprise, Mr. Edwards served in the savings and loan field as a real estate appraiser, developed affordable housing, and worked as a self-employed mortgage loan broker. 

Mr. Edwards was active in civic affairs. He served as Edgar Kaiser’s chosen successor on the Oakland – Alameda County Coliseum Board from 1978 through 1990, the first African American to do so. He also served on the Board of KQED television and as Chairman of the PBS affiliate radio station, KQED-FM.  He served on the Board of Directors of the California Bankers Association – one of the first African Americans to do so – as well as member of the Executive Committee of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, member of the New Oakland Committee, an affiliate of Oakland Community Economic Development. 

He was a Board Member of Stiles Hall in Berkeley, which provides mentoring and leadership training to students from all backgrounds, especially low-income Black and Latinx students.  

Mr. Edwards was repeatedly honored for his years of service to the City of Oakland, the County of Alameda, and the State of California. In 1980, Mayor Lionel J. Wilson declared Saturday December 13, 1980, as Lloyd Edwards Day in recognition of his dedication to the City of Oakland. That same year, he was honored by the California State Senate, the California State Assembly, and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors for his many years of exemplary community service. 

In his private life, Mr. Edwards loved spending time on the California coast, listening to the music of Frank Sinatra, and watching the Golden State Warriors. He was a devoted uncle, hiring many of his nieces and nephews for entry level positions at his businesses during their teenaged years. Friday “date night” with Ms. Lew – the love of his life – was the highlight of his week. 

Born in Berkeley, Mr. Edwards was the second child of Eulalie Peachey, an educator and homemaker, and Lloyd Edwards I, who was born in Wyoming of Seminole and Blackfoot Nation ancestry. 

Mr. Edwards grew up surrounded by a large extended family on Dohr Street in South Berkeley when the color line still prevailed west of Martin Luther King Jr. Way (then Grove Street), graduated from Berkeley High School in 1957, and in later years built the Promenade Building on University Avenue. 

Lloyd A. Edwards is survived by his wife of 26 years, Catherine Lew, his siblings, John A. Martin, Jr. and Winona Whitecloud, his brother-in-law Jimmy Lew, Jr., father-in-law Jimmy K. Lew, mother-in-law Virginia Lew, his nieces, Alexis Martin, Maria Martin, and Deena Chalabi, his nephews, Charlie Martin and Michael Martin, and his grandniece, Ava Martin-Chalabi.  

The family wishes to thank the exceptional staff at Stanford Health Care and Wilma Chan Highland Hospital, and his amazing team of caregivers.   

To honor his legacy, donations payable to the East Bay Community Foundation indicating “Lloyd A. Edwards Educational Fund” in the memo line can be mailed to:  East Bay Community Foundation, c/o Director of Donor Services, DeDemonico Building, 200 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA  94612. Details about the Fund and online giving options, coming soon.