Edwin Earl Wallis Jr.
September 7, 1948 – March 7, 2019
Longtime Jackson, Tennessee resident Edwin E. Wallis, Jr., a.k.a. Big Ed Wallis, passed away on March 7, 2019, at the age of 70 after suffering from a long illness.
Ed Wallis was born on September 7, 1948, in Memphis, Tennessee. While he spent parts of his childhood in both Memphis and Chattanooga, most of his pre-college years were spent in Knoxville, where he graduated from the Webb School of Knoxville. He was accepted to and graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University in 1969. He obtained his degree from Vanderbilt in three years, was a proud member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and spent time as a letterman pole vaulter for the Commodore’s track and field team. His greatest accomplishment from those first three years in Nashville, however, was meeting a Chi Omega freshman named Elizabeth (Liz) Butler, who became his wife on August 22, 1969. Liz and Ed were married for 49 years, 6 months and 13 days.
After college, Ed was accepted to Vanderbilt University School of Law, where he graduated with his law degree in May 1972. He passed the Bar Exam and spent four years working for two firms in Nashville, but his wife encouraged him to try moving to her hometown of Jackson. He joined the firm of Moss & Benton in 1976 as an associate, and eventually, he was honored to be considered a named partner in the firm. In all, Ed spent almost 43 years working with the firm of Moss, Benton & Wallis, helping clients with a wide range of needs. He stressed attention to detail, high standards of ethics, and feverish loyalty to his clients (even on vacations and weekends). He loved the law, and he loved working to help his clients, right up to the very end of his life.
His accomplishments as a lawyer are too many to list, but he was honored to be a Fellow in the Tennessee Bar Foundation, a president of the Jackson-Madison County Bar Association and an Executive Council Member of the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys. He spent many weekends at the office planning for his next week of work – always surrounded by his office cats Rocky, Socks, Miss Meow, Zoe, Lilly, and Junior. The cats were permitted free reign of his office – including during depositions and real estate closings. Ed loved helping animals. He also loved helping those that needed a lawyer and could not pay him. He impressed and befriended lawyers across the country, who referred to him time and time again for help. He was blessed to have a great legal assistant in Rhonda Dutton who was loyal to Ed until the end.
When he was not working, he divided his time on helping those in the community, watching many, many classic movies (at all hours of the day and night) and cheering on all things Vanderbilt in athletics. He loved giving Christmas gifts, especially Tennessee country ham, and telling tall tales to his grandchildren. Ed served as Chairman of the Board for Old Hickory Academy, Chairman of the United Way campaign on two occasions, Chairman of the Lifeline Blood Bank, Vestry Member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and more. He also spent thousands of hours in his life traveling to and from Nashville to watch Vanderbilt football games – not missing a home game for over almost two decades. He never lost hope in the Commodores, and he was able to enjoy three straight Vanderbilt wins against that other state team before his death.
Ed loved spending time with and traveling with his wife Liz, and he grew even more dependent on her in the last several years of his life when health problems took away much of his freedom. Ed and Liz spent much of their free time in Perdido Key, Florida, where Ed was honored to serve as the Vice Chair of the Mariner Condominium Board of Directors. If there was ever a place he could unwind from his job, it was there, where he enjoyed sitting on the beach and staring into the horizon and taking his children crab hunting at night whilst smoking a cigar.
He was the proud father of three children. His oldest daughter Margaret (Meg) Henderson Wallis was a medical doctor before her death on March 23, 2000. He is survived by his daughter Mollie Wallis Carter, and her husband Nathan Carter, who live in Portland, Oregon with their four children, Margaret (Maggie) Aldridge Carter (age 12), Simon Nathanael Carter (age 10), Frances Vaughan Carter (age 8), and Lucas Hogan Carter (age 6). He is also survived by his son Edwin (Little Ed) Earl Wallis III, and his wife Jenna, who live in Memphis, Tennessee with their sons Edwin Earl Wallis, IV (age 10) and Butler Steele Wallis (age 8). Ed was proud of all three of his children, and he adored all six of his grandchildren. They in turn adoringly loved their “Dadee.”
Ed was pre-deceased by his parents, Edwin Earl Wallis and Martha Alley Wallis, and his sister, Beverly Wallis Davenport. He is survived by his sister Jean Wallis Norman and her husband Gordon.
There are far too many people to thank in this Obituary for those who helped care for Ed and his health problems that began many years ago. Ed’s family thanks the selfless gift of a new liver that was provided by a grieving family twenty-five years ago and the team of surgeons that helped give him the gift of life, including Dr. A. Osama Gaber. The family likewise thanks Dr. John Jenkins, whose sacrificial care of Ed went above and beyond anything warranted. Others who provided loving help over the past few years include neighbors Brent and Kimberly Holland and Ed’s good friend Charles Ty Capps.
The family of Big Ed Wallis will receive friends at George A. Smith and Sons Funeral Home in Jackson, Tennessee on Sunday, March 10, 2019, between 4:00 and 7:00pm. The funeral will occur on Monday, March 11, 2019, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 2:00pm, with a private burial to occur at Ridgecrest Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family recommends a gift to the Mid-South Transplant Foundation, Inc. or your favorite charity.
- Bubba Walker, Active
- Ty Capps, Active
- Hank Shackleford, Active
- Brent Holland, Active
- Dr. John Jenkins, Active
- Richard Glassman, Active
- Brian Allison, Active
- Sonny Dement, Honorary
- Allen Sallee, Honorary
- Edwin E. Wallis, IV, Honorary
- Simon Carter, Honorary
- Butler Steele Wallis, Honorary
- Lucas Carter, Honorary
- Visitation with Friends and Loved Ones Sunday, March 10, 2019
- The Funeral Service Monday, March 11, 2019