A confident, charismatic 71-year old Edward H. “Ed” Wisdom Jr. gracefully charmed an audience of hundreds in Vanderbilt’s Wyatt Center with the likeness of a historic address, smiling proudly and profoundly stating, “[I have surpassed] three score and ten” and then again on the Nashville’s 92Q Ernie Allen Morning Show, “I’m doing fine for a YOUNG man over 70…” He would enjoy his entire life with that same confident, charismatic, and charming spirit, yet on October 28, 2011 someone would have something different in mind, an act that would propagate a silence throughout a city that would be deafening. And thus a legacy emerged.
Known as “Jack” growing up, Ed Wisdom Jr.’s childhood included a very close friendship throughout with Olympic great Wilma Rudolph. Poised for excellence, overachieving in Mathematics, Wisdom and Rudolph graduated 3rd and 4th among Clarksville, Tennessee’s Burt High School senior class, respectively.
Ed Wisdom Jr. would go on to achieve greatness as a member of the famed “All-American” 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina during a time when it was believed that African Americans “couldn’t jump out of airplanes, they couldn’t manage the parachutes, they wouldn’t have the courage to step out of the door,” he demonstrated that his valor was as great and courage was greater. Ed Wisdom Jr. would later join the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion Association, The Triple Nickles, in which he was recognized in recent years for his achievement, as he had planned to participate in a parachute jump in 2012, where he would have been 72 years old. It was during his time with the 82nd Airborne, America’s Guard of Honor, that Ed Wisdom Jr. would adopt their motto, “All The Way”. It would be part of the basis in his determination to accomplish and see to the end every task he every took on.
It would be during his time in Fort Bragg, North Carolina that Ed Wisdom Jr. would meet and marry Emma Jackson Wormley of Houston, Texas and it is then that “Wisdom built his home.” (Proverbs 24:3). The two would go on to birth and raise Rolanda Michelle and Edward H. III and enjoy time with grandson, Erik. Ed Wisdom Jr. would live his life with God, family, and work as his priorities.
Ed Wisdom Jr. would return to his roots in Clarksville, Tennessee and became the first African-American to graduate (with honors) with a double major in Mathematics and Industrial Arts at Austin Peay State University. Ed Wisdom Jr. was also the first African-American school teacher at Clarksville High School teaching Mathematics and Industrial Arts including Electricity.
Ed Wisdom Jr. was a top-performer in Atlantic City, New Jersey at IBM on a top secret clearance programming team, tracking US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aircraft, space crafts to the moon, computers on submarines, and missile systems around the United States. Wisdom was one of the two first African-Americans to work for this facility.
Prior success fueled close to 40 years of mastery at Tennessee State University as the college’s Director of Management Information Systems as Ed Wisdom Jr. not only became well known for his expertise in the field of computing but became an ambassador to students campus-wise. He would be known simply as “Granddaddy” (or “Daddy”) to most. Ed Wisdom Jr.’s son Ed III and grandson Erik would follow his footsteps into the same field culminating his legacy. (Note: Ed Wisdom Jr.’s father served this country honorably in the Navy during World War II and traveled a tour of duty that was the equivalent of 5 times. Four brothers that would follow Ed Jr. into the armed forces)