Ed Scott is surrounded by family in this 2021 Christmas portrait. (Photo contributed by family)

A name prominently visible throughout Springfield from the early 1980s into the 2000s belonged to a man remembered today as a hard-working, fun-loving family guy who had an amazing memory of his own.

Ed Scott — his birth certificate read Charles Edmund Scott — who died Sept. 29 at age 76, operated a courier service that fielded as many as 14 trucks zipping around town daily with “Ed Scott Express” emblazoned on the bodywork along with the business phone number.

Although Ed Scott Express still is listed in directories and the phone number remains the same, in recent years Ed’s name faded from the trucks after he sold the business. However, he hasn’t been forgotten — just as he seemed to never forget anything.

Ed Scott, 1946-2022 (Photo submitted by family)

“Ed had an excellent memory, a really sharp memory,” says longtime friend Eddy Martin. “I mean, he could remember names, places and things that happened — and even the dates that things happened years ago.”

Morris Dock, who knew Ed since they were students at Jarrett Junior High, agrees: “You could get a confirmation from Ed if your memory was correct or not. And he might have a thought or two to add to it to strengthen it.”

Gary Camp, who met Ed when they were 9-year-old teammates on a youth baseball team that was sponsored by a local barber and dubbed the Clippers, puts it this way: “Not only could Ed tell you what street someone lived on even years ago — he’d also give you the address number of the house.”

Martin, Dock and Camp each belong to separate morning coffee klatches that Ed regularly attended. Camp and a half-dozen or so buddies gather most weekdays at a Burger King on West Kearney Street. Dock and five or 10 pals meet on Tuesdays or Wednesdays — sometimes both — at Seattle Roast Coffee on South Avenue downtown. And every Friday, as many as 18 friends assemble at the Panera Bread on South Campbell.

Ed attended all three — sometimes two on the same morning. And he was always welcome.

That doesn’t surprise his family — including a surprise family member. More about that later…

“He was a people person,” says Donna Scott, Ed’s wife of 53 years. “He loved people. It sounds like a cliche to say Ed never met a stranger — but with him it really was true.”

They went on their first date in 1968 — Donna was 18 and Ed was 21 — while cruising Kearney on a Saturday evening. 

Ed got an exciting ride in a NASCAR race car, with a professional driver at the wheel, at a St. Louis track a few years ago. (Photo contributed by family)

Although she graduated from Hillcrest and Ed was a Parkview grad, “I knew of him through mutual acquaintances,” Donna recounts. “Ed stopped me and asked me if I wanted to go to the stock car races at Bolivar. He had a friend with him, and I had a girlfriend with me. So I said, ‘Well, I’ll have to go home and check with my mom.’ So he followed me home and I asked Mom — and surprisingly enough she said ‘Yes.’ 

“That started our courtship. After that we went to races every weekend — Friday nights at the (Ozark Empire) Fairgrounds, Bolivar on Saturday nights.”

When Ed asked for Donna’s hand in marriage a few months later, she accepted with the proviso that the wedding be held on Feb. 14. She was not yet aware of his prodigious memory skills. 

“I picked Valentine’s Day to make sure he remembered our anniversary,” she says with a laugh. “That really wasn’t necessary.”

‘He didn’t like being bossed around’

When they met, Ed was working at the former Litton Industries electronic circuit board plant here.

During the first few years of their marriage, Donna recalls, “He did a little bit of everything — worked at the GE plant, worked in the insurance business, was a route driver for Coca Cola. But he didn’t like being bossed around.”

Ed Scott and Donna Bills shortly after they met in 1968. (Photo contributed by family)

So in 1980, Ed decided to become his own boss and start his own business. The official description was “An urban package and document delivery and retrieval service.” Ed called it Sunshine Express.

After a couple of years, one of his largest customers convinced Ed to sell. Ed stayed on — but by the spring of 1984, he was again chafing at being an employee rather than an employer. So he quit. And soon after, he started a new courier company, this time incorporating his own name.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

Ed Scott Express ubiquitous in town

The revenue for Ed Scott Express came through two major job categories: 

  • Regular customers, eventually including about 50 of Springfield’s largest businesses, that hired Ed to fetch the company mail from the post office. As he once explained it: “We can save a company the cost of an employee by being able to run daily errands like that for them.”
  • Spur-of-the-moment customers who suddenly needed something delivered or picked up — Pronto! Routine cargo included architectural drawings, legal paperwork, medical supplies, and paint and other building materials.

At first, as had been the case with Sunshine Express, the new Ed Scott Express had only one truck and one driver — Ed himself — although Donna often helped out by making deliveries using her car during her lunch break from her job at Elkins-Swyers Printing Co. 

As the business grew to support hiring other drivers and expanding the fleet of trucks, Ed continued to stay at the wheel — until logistics became so complicated that it made more sense for him to stay in the office to dispatch trucks as new assignments came in.

“He did not like being cooped up inside — he would rather have been driving,” says son Lance, who works in construction, repair and maintenance for the Springfield-Greene County Parks system.

Lance and his younger brother, Darin, both worked for the express company as they were growing up. But their main memories involving their dad center around sports.

Ed was a standout softball player. His position was catcher, and he was a member of several teams through the years, including a fast-pitch squad sponsored by the local Coca-Cola distributor, and slow-pitch teams sponsored by churches, especially Hamlin Baptist Church where he and Donna were active members.

Ed admired Dean Smith, coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team, and he and Donna journeyed to Kentucky to see UNC play the University of Kentucky several years ago. (Photo contributed by family)

‘The person who showed me what kind of person and … coach I wanted to become’

“Our dad coached me and my brother in baseball and basketball,” says Lance. “He wanted everyone to score. In basketball, he wanted us to pass the ball to the open man — and he really, really enjoyed it when all the players scored at least one basket in a game.”

Darin, who for more than 20 years has been the head baseball and softball coach at Lindbergh High in St. Louis, says his dad was “my biggest influence, the person who showed me what kind of person and what kind of coach I wanted to become. How I deal with people and how I deal with my players, my philosophies and the things I do coaching-wise — my dad passed those things along to me.”

Ed was an important role model for his sons away from the baseball diamond and basketball court as well.

“My dad always set a really good example for me and my brother,” says Lance. “One of the main things was how he treated our mom. He showed us how to carry on a marriage and how to make it work. I learned a lot from watching my dad and mom.”

Donna and Ed continued to do some of the same things that brought them together in the first place. On weekend evenings, they drove Ed’s customized 1963 Chevy to McDonald’s on Kearney Street “where we first hooked up,” says Donna. On the first Saturday of warm-weather months they joined other car enthusiasts who gather at the Steak ‘n’ Shake on South Glenstone; and on the second Saturdays, they’d cruise to a monthly car show in Marshfield.

They attended high school sporting events together, too. The girls’ basketball games at Strafford and Willard were among their favorites.

Ed was a leader in organizing reunions for his Parkview Class of ’64, and had a hand in starting the Mother of All Reunions that invites students who attended any of the Springfield high schools that existed in the 1960s.

Former classmates are among the morning coffee confabs that Ed attended. Conversation was wide-ranging, but Ed especially enjoyed discussing sports.

Ed’s seat is empty now at the weekday morning gatherings of old friends at a West Kearney Street restaurant. The attendees vary from week to week, but regulars include Gary Camp, Ken Garrison, Dave Hale, Jerry Doss and Bill Haymes. (Photo by Mike O’Brien)

‘He was one of those guys you knew was going to be there’

Sitting in with Ed’s friends on a recent Wednesday morning at the Burger King, the chatter was non-stop:

“We talk A to Z here….”

“Many, many times we’ve solved the problems of how to correct this old world…”

“Nothing is off-limits … Well, we hardly ever talk about sex, because we’re all past that age…”

“Some of us get to talking about cows while the rest of them at the other end of the table are talking about ballplayers and cars…”

“Ed would let us know real quick that he was a city boy. He didn’t know anything about cows, for instance — but he would listen, though, and remember. That way he could get in on the conversation next time…”

“Ed loved cars. He didn’t know how to fix one, but he knew who to take it to in order to get it fixed. He couldn’t hardly change the oil in one himself…”

“Ed would always ask us to pray for his car, to try to get it to get better gas mileage….”

Morris Dock says Ed avoided talking about politics at the sessions downtown. 

“When someone would bring up politics, it was like ‘Whoops! Politics don’t belong here! God loves us all — let’s keep it that way.’

“Ed was a great friend. He would show up. He’d go to a visitation, he’d go to a funeral. He was one of those guys you knew was going to be there. His presence is going to be missed.”

Eddy Martin said the bunch at Panera often talk about “old times, things that happened years ago, common friends we’ve had. Ed’s memory about that kind of stuff was better than anyone else’s at the table. 

“And his dry sense of humor — he was hilarious. It was mostly just extemporaneous comments that he would make. He always got us laughing.”

In 2001, Ed was approached by Mark and Misty Lane with an offer to purchase the Ed Scott Express. A deal was struck. Then in his mid-50s, Ed retired.

But not for long. Over the next 20 years, he got back behind the wheel — first driving his own van delivering patients to medical appointments, then making deliveries for O’Reilly Automotive and hauling express mail for the Postal Service between Springfield and Rolla, with stops in small towns in-between.

Ed finally retired for good at the end of 2021.

However, a few months ago doctors discovered blockages in three arteries. Heart bypass surgery was performed in September. But while recovering from the surgery, he was diagnosed with COVID. Ed died Sept. 29.

Donna and Michelle Scott with Ed’s hotrod 1963 Chevy. (Photo by Mike O’Brien)

‘He was the best ‘Paw Paw’ on Earth’

Now, remember the “surprise family member” mentioned earlier?

That’s his daughter, Michelle.

She is the product of an association that Ed had before he met Donna. 

Michelle didn’t know about Ed until her late teens when she was enrolled at Drury University in the mid-1980s. When she was informed by a step-mother about Ed’s identity, she looked him up and they met over lunch.

“He said, ‘Well, the ball is in your court. I’ll let you decide what you want our relationship to be,’” Michelle recalls. “It took me about 10 years before I decided yes, I wanted to get to know him and his family better.”

Donna, Lance, Darin and other relatives joined Ed in welcoming Michelle. “I could see that my dad was a super-nice, funny, friendly guy. He was very affectionate, very much a family man. I could see that he loved his sons, and his grandkids and great-grandkids — he was the best ‘Paw Paw’ on Earth.”

Michelle says getting to know the Scotts “really clarified the nature-versus-nurture thing for me. I did not grow up with this family, but I am very much a part of this family. I fit right in.”

Literally. 

Ed and Donna formally adopted Michelle when she was 48 years old. “I’m officially a Scott,” she says.

“It’s been a blessing to us,” says Donna. 

Michelle taught school for more than 30 years, mostly in the Aurora public school system. She retired from the classroom when COVID hit, but now works the front desk in the administrative office at the OTC branch in Republic. She also fosters dogs Rescue One, and volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).

At the Oct. 5 funeral service for Ed held at Hamlin Baptist Church, Michelle read a poem she’d written about Ed. It’s titled “Daddy’s Girl,” and it reads in part:

All throughout my childhood years, there’s one thing I dreamed of
I longed to be a Daddy’s Girl and feel a father’s love
A part of me was missing — a hole within my heart
I knew not how to fill it, or even how to start
Then one day I learned of you, and things began to change
I knew I had to meet you, so the meeting was arranged
I remember how I felt that day — the nervous butterflies
The first thing that I noticed was I have my father’s eyes…
The hole within my heart was filled
Your love filled every spot
My childhood wish came true the day
That I became a Scott…
I’ll cherish every memory, though now we say goodbye
I’ll always be a Daddy’s Girl
Our love will never die.

Mike O'Brien

Mike O’Brien is a longtime newspaper reporter, editor and columnist and is also a college journalism educator in Springfield. To suggest a person who might make a subject for Lives Remembered, email him at LivesRemembered@sgfcitizen.org or obriencolumn@sbcglobal.net. More by Mike O’Brien