On May 22 we said goodbye to Edward V. Droste after 94 remarkable years. Ed passed peacefully in his Largo, Florida home surrounded by his family after a brave battle with cancer.
Originally from Waverly, Iowa, Ed was born to Arthur F. and Marion (Lizer) Droste on February 21, 1925. He was baptized into Christ by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, confirmed in March of 1939, and reared through the 8th grade by St. Paul’s Lutheran School before graduating from Waverly High School in 1943. Within moments of his graduation, he joined his 16 million American countrymen serving their country in World War II. Ed was inducted into the U.S. Army on July 17, 1943, completing his basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. He continued with Army Specialized Training Program at Northeastern University in Boston before joining the 17th Airborne Division in February of 1944 and earning his paratroop wings that June.
Next came “the greatest land battle ever to be fought and won by the United States Army,” and what would be a defining moment for Ed and our entire country: The Battle of the Bulge. Ed entered the Bulge via Operation Plunder, Airborne’s invasion of Germany at the Rhine crossing, and saw the campaign through to its victory in January of 1945. A gifted athlete (he’d tell you he mighta been a Chicago Cub if not for the War), he joined the Armed Forces Baseball League in playing morale-raising games across Europe before being honorably discharged in October from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, and finally returning home.
On August 12 of 1946, Ed married his hometown sweetheart Phyllis Jean Holley at Waverly’s United Methodist Church. He enrolled at local Wartburg College in 1947, then transferred to Iowa State University where in addition to his studies he competed on the golf team, famously hosting the 1949 NCAA National Championship and a young Wake Forest player named Arnold Palmer. Ed would later reunite with Arnie 50 years later at the 1999 TPC tournament pro-am in Tampa.
Ed graduated from ISU in the summer of 1949 and accepted a teaching and coaching position at New Hampton (Iowa) High School. He continued to play competitive golf in tournaments throughout the Midwest while nurturing the beginnings of his growing family, daughters Linda and Sally, and son Eddie. In 1954 Ed joined his father’s publishing company. He rose to VP/GM in 1961, becoming president and co-owner in 1975, and retiring in 1986.
Ed endeavored to make a constant contribution to his Waverly community. He was a teacher, coach, small business owner and employer. He served for 16 years on the Waverly Planning and Zoning Commission, 12 years as Wartburg Alumni Treasurer, president of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Council, member of the Waverly Chamber of Commerce, the Development Commission, the Parks and Recreation Commission, Kids Kingdom and was awarded the Wartburg Alumni Citation Award. He was also a leading member Waverly Golf and Country Club, maintaining a lifelong love of golf that included seven hole-in-one scores.
A constant spring of enthusiasm, Ed (who by the early 70’s would become “Bumpa,” courtesy of his mumble-mouthed first grandchild) loved dancing with his wife, as well as card games, especially his decades-long gin rummy match with Phyllis (now known as “Boom Boom”…see aforementioned grandchild mumblings). In what spare time she allowed him, he cheered proudly for the Waverly HS Go-Hawks (he was a four-sport letterman), the ISU Cyclones (also a letterman), his dear Green Bay Packers (he would finally become a one-share team owner!), and of course the Chicago Cubs. Ed was heartbroken at 7-years-old when he witnessed the Cubs 1932 World Series loss, later made every effort to help the team by throwing out a first pitch at Wrigley in 1993 and — legend has it — powered through his 94 years and multiple cancer battles just to see the Cubs reclaim the Series title.
Ed also managed to find a little time for fishing, duck hunting, mushroom hunting, painting, more golf, international cruising with the family, and keeping up with Phyl’s social schedule, which didn’t slow the least as retirement brought the couple more frequently to the Tampa Bay area where their son Eddie was working on a new restaurant idea called Hooters. “Bumpa and Boom Boom” ultimately made their permanent home in Largo, Florida, in the vibrant Royal Palms community. Together they proudly supported (and were graciously supported by) Clearwater Beach’s Chapel by the Sea, Morton Plant Hospital, and Moffitt Cancer Center.
Ed’s memory is honored by his loving wife, Phyllis Droste of Largo, Florida; one son, Edward C. (Marsha) Droste of Clearwater, Florida; two daughters, Linda Moon of Ankeny, Iowa and Sally (David) Pitts of Centennial, Colorado; three grandchildren, Ryan, Brian (Robyn) and Kylie (EJ), two step-grandchildren, Stephanie and Mike; three step great grandchildren, Emily, Jack, and Nick; a newly born great grandson James; and a sister, Dorothy Hertel of Waverly. Ed was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Marion Droste, and step-mother Elizabeth; a sister and her husband, Margaret (Rev. Ronald) Braulick; a brother in law, Dr. Elmer Hertel, and a son-in-law, Steve Moon.
A faithful servant of God, “Big Ed” was kind to, and loved by so many. He will be missed dearly by many…until we all meet again…
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