GREENVILLE — Duane “Lum” Edwards is one busy man these days.
When he’s not attending to family affairs, he is announcing tractor pulls and other special events, but is involved in his Greenville Farm Power of the Past, the local high school alumni association and the Greenville FFA Alumni.
He acquired his nickname from his father, who was also called Lum.
“My dad was called that for years and years,” Edwards said. “He worked on the railroad and he was nicknamed after a character on the Lum and Abner radio show.”
The son of the late Delbert and Satie (Flaler) Edwards, Duane was born and raised in Coletown and graduated from Greenville High School in 1965.
While in high school, he helped farm for his uncle, Carl Flaler, and Auctioneer V.L. Roll. After high school, his first job was working at Marv Wigger’s Tire Shop in Union City from August 1965 to March 1966. The bigger part of his career was spent with Union City Body Company and Workhorse for a total of 46 1/2 years. He retired in October 2012.
He met his wife, the former Toni Van Dyke, while cruising Broadway in 1967. They were married in Feb. 16, 1968.
They are the parents of two daughters, Cassie Campbell, who died March 9 this year, and Dawn Duff, who lives in Covington. There are two grandsons, Jake and Luke.
Edwards said he started attending tractor pulls in 1965 at the Ansonia ball diamond.
“Wayne Slyder and Ronnie Barga had a Whistle Stop bet,” Edwards recalled. “I walked there to watch it, and Ronnie won.”
Edwards kept going to the pulls until 1970.
“Back then, I was a spectator and they had sleds and a piece of steel,” he recalled. “Some of us would be in lawn chairs and would stand on the sleds. We did that at the sale barn where the Triangle is and at the Eaton fair.”
Then, the Edwardses’ first daughter came along, and he took a hiatus from the tractor pulls to concentrate on his growing family.
“In 1981, I went back to tractor pulling,” he said. “In the ’80s, my dad hated tractor pulls. He thought they were tearing up the tractors. He was old school. He would say tractors were made for farm work, not for playing. He died in 1983 and that’s when I basically got started back in it. He gave me the devil lots of time for getting home late.”
He said his wife, too, used to get upset with him for spending so much time at the pulls.
“I re-heated my supper lots of times,” he said. “But, over the years, she knew what I liked to do.”
Edwards’ name is now synonymous with event announcing, which he has been doing for 27 years.
“I was president of the Darke County Tractor Pullers from 1984-87 and was a member of the Ohio State Tractor Pullers and took care of prizes for the banquet. A guy at state said to me, ‘How would you like announcing?’ I said, ‘I can’t do that.’ and he said, ‘Yes you know everybody.’ and I said, ‘Let me think about it.’ Then later, Jim Acton of Lynn, Indiana, an antique announcer, asked me to do it for [the late] Stanley Williams.”
Edwards obliged and said he and Williams hit it off.
“I basically caught on right away,” Edwards said. “He wanted an announcer who could pronounce the names.”
He recalled one night, a woman came up to him at the tower and said, “If you do this, you’ll do it right. When you give the distances, give them twice. We may not hear it right the first time.”
That was my first piece of advice.
Edwards announced for the first time at the Wayne County Fair.
“Stanley kept giving me more events, such as demolition derbies and mud bogs,” he said “I’ve done everything. I do the tractor pulls at the Great Darke County Fair as well as Greenville Farm Power of the Past. I have also done two pig wresting events, a couple years ago did a corn husking event, this year announced a pony pulling contest for Farm Power of the Past and was at Mount Lawn Speedway in Newcastle, for the Hoosier State Tractor Pull.”
Edwards, who owns Black Sheep Announcing LLC, said he goes to Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky…wherever he is needed.
“If they have the money, I’ve got the time,” he said.
He is a member of the Darke County Tractor Pullers Association, the Hoosier State Tractor Pullers and the National Tractor Pullers Association, not to mention the Greenville FFA Alumni, of which he has been president 18 of the 20 years he has been involved with it.
“At our 45th class reunion, I invited Richard Tenney, my FFA adviser in high school,” Edwards said. “I told him, ‘If it were not for you pushing me into public speaking, I couldn’t do what I do.”
He is a director of the Farm Power of the Past and was involved with Heritage Days in Union City for five or six years, where he still announces some of the tractor pulls.
His work keeps him busy throughout the summer, and he gets started in the new year with the antiques in Eaton in March.
He still has some work yet to do this season. On Saturday, he will be announcing the Darke County Tractor Pull at the Montgomery County fair; will be in Palestine on Monday; and next Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be in Lynn, Indiana.
“The last one will be Sept. 19 in Marion, Indiana, unless I get another phone call,” he said.
Edwards has also been involved with his high school alumni and served on the board for six or eight years.
Another love of his veterans.
“I take care of the Darke County veterans during the program Wednesday at the fair,” Edwards said. “We have two days of tractor pulling, and we have silent time Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to whenever. I had a banner made and we have a winner’s circle dedicated to the veterans. We can’t do enough for those men and women who did stuff for us. George Stuck, chaplain, mentioned me this year and I was taken aback. I don’t do this for the notoriety. Veterans are high on my list right now.”
He went on, “There is so much I miss because of my announcing, like the cruise-ins, but, those [tractor pullers] people kept me sane this year, with my daughter dying. It was rough, and is still rough. You never get over it; you just get used to it.”
His whole family was there the night he was inducted into the Darke County Tractor Pullers Hall of Fame in 2013. It was a total surprise to him and he didn’t think anything about Alan Washburn coming all the way from Indiana to be there as well.
“I thought he was going to speak,” Edwards said. “Here, he inducted me. It was pure shock and an honor. They snuck my family in the building. I thank my wife and family for everything they put up with me and tractor pulling for all my involvements. It takes a good woman to make a man successful. Like my friend, the late Ben Bowman, would say, ‘It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.’”