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Ed Stead – His Story

An interviewer once asked Ed what early events in his life helped shaped his commitment to environmental responsibility and social justice. He responded, “My inspiration came from growing up in Birmingham, Alabama during a time when it was one of the most environmentally polluted, socially unjust places in America.” Indeed, Birmingham during Ed’s childhood had choking air from the miles of smoke-belching open-hearth steel mills that spread across the north side of the city, and it was the scene of untold racial hatred and human tragedy that earned it the nickname, “Bombingham” in the 1960s. Despite these maladies, Birmingham afforded Ed safe neighborhoods, a nurturing home environment, and an excellent public education.

Birmingham has grown and changed a lot since those days of filthy air and social violence, and so has Ed. He left Birmingham for Auburn University in 1964. Auburn immediately captured his heart, and to this day it is the place that Ed calls home. He matriculated from Auburn University in 1968 with a BS degree in his hand and a pair of gold US Army 2nd Lieutenant bars on his shoulders. After serving on active duty from 1968 to1970, Ed returned to Auburn and entered the MBA program. In addition to his studies, he taught computer programming and co-authored a computer-programming book (his first publication). One of the students in the first class Ed ever taught was a lovely young woman named Jean Garner. He didn’t know it then, but she would soon become his lovely bride and trusted colleague forever.

After graduating from Auburn with an MBA in 1972, Ed spent a year in banking. He and Jean married in January 1973, and he entered the PhD program at LSU eight months later. He taught organizational communication at LSU while working toward his PhD in Management with a major in organizational behavior and minors in communication and sociology. He completed his PhD in 1976 and took a job in the College of Business at Western Illinois University. He left WIU for the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 1979, spent one year as a visiting professor at LSU in 1980 while Jean did her PhD coursework, returned to UAB in 1981, and joined the faculty of ETSU in 1982. If this sounds confusing, look at it this way: Ed and Jean moved from Illinois to Alabama to Louisiana to Alabama to Tennessee between August 1979 and August 1982. They clearly epitomized the idea of migrant schoolteachers.

In 1980, in the middle of all these moves, Ed and Jean’s daughter, Garner Lee, was born, further enriching their already rich and blessed lives. Ed said when Garner Lee was born that she was an ‘old soul’ here to impart wisdom into the world. Nothing has happened in the ensuing years to change his mind. Her kind heart and wise soul have touched many during her short lifetime. Garner Lee is now married to Mike, and they have blessed Ed and Jean with two beautiful grandchildren, Grant Thomas and Allison Grace.

Ed now lives with Jean on 13 wooded acres in the majestic Appalachian Mountains of northeast Tennessee, where he is currently a professor of management at East Tennessee State University. He has had a very rewarding career in an environmental paradise, and he plans to continue his career as long as his body and his mind will allow it. His career and his life have certainly been very rewarding, including the following honors:

  • National Society of Scabbard & Blade, Auburn University
  • Distinguished Military Student, Auburn University
  • Distinguished Military Graduate, Auburn University
  • Honor Graduate, US Army Adjutant General School
  • US Army Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service
  • Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honor Society
  • Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society
  • American Library Association Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award
  • Outstanding Teacher Award, College of Business, ETSU
  • Outstanding Research Award, College of Business, ETSU
  • Distinguished Service Award, ONE Division, Academy of Management
  • Outstanding Service Award, Academy of Management

One of the ways that Ed works his body and mind is through his yoga practice. He began practicing yoga occasionally in 1979, and he took it up full time in 2000. After spending three years studying privately under the watchful eye of his personal teacher and dear friend, Maggie Cooper, he entered yoga teacher training at the Asheville Yoga Center in Asheville, NC where he earned his yoga teacher certification in 2004. He practices flow yoga, which he describes as “meditation in motion.”

After all these years, Ed still maintains a home in Auburn where he returns often. He attends most Auburn football games and as many other sporting events as possible, and he spends important quality time with close relatives and old friends. He has come to understand that as much as he loves the natural beauty and wonderful people of his home in Tennessee, he will always be an Auburn Tiger in his heart. War Eagle!