The Grand Island Independent lost a strong editorial voice this past week. Ed Armstrong was called away from us unexpectedly at age 80. His departure leaves a significant void to fill on the five member editorial board, for his contribution to this space was considerable.

Right up to his final editorial, Ed’s clear, intelligent writing sprang from a lifetime of experiences. He had a remarkable career as a financial adviser, he was a devoted family man, community booster and loyal, convivial friend to many.

One of Ed’s lifelong friends, Gene Budig was a classmate at McCook High. From McCook both men went far. Gene is the former president of Illinois State and West Virginia universities and former chancellor of the University of Kansas. He is also past president of baseball’s American League and like, Ed, Gene shared a passion for writing opinions and columns in the newspaper.

Ed looked up to Gene as something of a mentor. He adopted Gene’s discipline for writing concisely and in plain language the masses could understand. Ed was told that an effective editorial should be in the range of 400 words. Without fail, Ed’s opinion pieces uniformly clocked in at 400 words, give or take a couple.

Ed’s favorite topics dealt with frustrations over the state of affairs in Washington. His pen rendered sharp but fair-minded criticism followed most often by prudent suggestions on how denizens of D.C. could do their jobs better. He also liked to proffer his well-honed wisdom on life’s lessons; personal financial management; prioritizing life choices; and simple rules by which to lead a more fulfilling life.

Ed possessed a gifted sense of humor and his editorials were sometimes laced with his keen wit.

Ed’s local editorial subjects were often drawn from the deep wisdom and insights shared by his coffee group, which he referred to as the “Circle of Knowledge.”

Ed was also a voracious reader and few could match his broad knowledge of current events, gleaned from reading the state’s leading newspapers, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and other news publications. He paid particular attention to political and financial reporting.

Ed was a man of peerless integrity and deep-seated Nebraska conservative values. In our weekly board meetings, Ed consistently held firm to his principles and made strong, respectful arguments to make his point when differences of opinion arose.

Ed’s wisdom, good judgment, and institutional knowledge will be deeply missed by those on the editorial board and by our faithful readers throughout Central Nebraska and beyond.

We devote today’s opinion space to celebrate a life lived well and a man whose opinion counted in our community. If there is an editorial board in heaven, Ed will find a seat there and his voice will be heard for all time.

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