Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Edward Earl LaDuke

Edward Earl LaDuke: 'Saint Ed' scavenged and sacrificed for needy in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — For more than 25 years, Edward LaDuke bought groceries for the poor, paying for them with most of his Social Security check and whatever he could scrounge from trash bins.

Workers at Daystar Life Center came twice a week to his modest rented home, decorated with multiple statues of the Virgin Mary and a Christmas tree year-round, to pick up nonperishable goods he had bought on sale. They called him "Saint Ed," but he didn't want their praise.

"This was what he was supposed to do, and he didn't know why other people didn't see that it was what they were supposed to do, too," said Jane Trocheck Walker, Daystar's executive director, who added that Mr. LaDuke also gave to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic and other charities.

Mr. LaDuke died Nov. 25 at St. Anthony's Hospital of an aneurism. He was three days shy of his 80th birthday.

He had strong opinions and dispensed them freely. A former Marine sergeant, Mr. LaDuke disapproved of people who showed up late or did not follow through with commitments.

"I don't think he could take a joke too well," Walker said. "He was so serious about everything."

Every morning except Sunday, Mr. LaDuke rose at dawn and dressed for Dumpster diving near his home on Eighth Avenue N. He did not drive a car, and covered the ground on foot. He combed through soggy newspaper and coffee grounds with a broom handle he had sawed off and outfitted with a hook.

He cleaned off the items he deemed worthy with a rag and dumped them into a plastic garbage bag. He salvaged items from spices to office supplies, and sold hundreds of pounds of scrap aluminum. He found picture frames to take home and mount with another image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary.

Mr. LaDuke loved Christmas, and always kept a decorated tree in the living room. He never said why, but his friends knew it was important. The last birthday in his address book reads, "Dec. 25, Jesus."

He did not like people throwing useful items in the trash or telling him what to do. Ken Carroll, the former owner of Lockhart's Supermarket, saw the gaunt Mr. LaDuke buying up to $400 worth of groceries at a time. Carroll sold to him at wholesale prices but was still concerned. "Ed didn't eat anything," said Carroll, 64. "He probably didn't weigh 80 pounds."

When he suggested Mr. LaDuke buy a little less food for the Free Clinic and a little more for himself, "He told me that he was here to take care of the needy and the homeless, that he would spend his money the way he wanted to spend his money and he didn't need any of my advice," Carroll recalled.

He cultivated other causes, too.

A developer bought the mobile home park where he lived, but Mr. LaDuke slowed down the process with legal motions he banged out on an old typewriter. He often shared his grievances with Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who always wrote back.

Mr. LaDuke grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., the sixth of 10 children. The family was deeply Catholic, and celebrated Christmases with extended family at Mr. LaDuke's childhood home, his family said. He dropped out of high school and joined the Marines in 1945, and re-enlisted twice more before joining the Army. He finished his last tour of duty with the Army in 1967, in Vietnam.

A military record shows that Mr. LaDuke was married during at least part of the 1950s — something that took family members and friends at Daystar by surprise.

Daystar staff convinced Mr. LaDuke to show up at its 25th anniversary celebration last year so that his contributions could be recognized. But by the time volunteers arrived to pick him up, he had changed his mind, and shooed them from his driveway.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Andrew Meacham can be reached at ameacham@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2248.

.Biography

Edward Earl LaDuke

Born: Nov. 28, 1929

Died: Nov. 25, 2009

Survivors: Brothers Bernard, Glenn and Kenneth LaDuke; sisters Cecile Gillespie, Arlene Manseau and Beverly Giangiobbe; numerous nieces and nephews.

Service: To be arranged.

Edward Earl LaDuke: 'Saint Ed' scavenged and sacrificed for needy in St. Petersburg 12/05/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 5, 2009 9:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. See you later, alligator! Reptile captured off Miami Beach (w/video)

    Wildlife

    MIAMI BEACH — Police and wildlife officials captured an unwanted visitor on Miami Beach.

    An alligator was spotted swimming in the Atlantic Ocean near the South Pointe Park pier in Miami Beach on July 23, 2017. News outlets quoted viewers who said it took officials about two hours to capture the gator. No one was injured.

  2. Dog dies in hot car while owner cleans Florida condos

    Public Safety

    PANAMA CITY BEACH — Authorities say a 2-year-old Chihuahua died in a hot car while its owner was cleaning condominiums in Florida.

  3. Recipe for Nutty Quinoa Carbonara

    Cooking

    If you've never made carbonara, consider adding it to your weekday dinner lineup. It is a traditional Italian pasta dish in which eggs are mixed with cheese and then swirled into cooked pasta just before serving. The result is a luscious bowl of food you won't believe contains so few ingredients. This recipe swaps …

    Quinoa Carbonara. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  4. Jared Kushner says he has 'nothing to hide' on Russia (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is denying that President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia, saying in a statement ahead of congressional interviews that he has "nothing to hide."

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington on June 22, 2017. [Associated Press]
  5. Forecast: Less stormy weather to start week in Tampa Bay before chances ramp back up

    Weather

    After some stormy mornings throughout the weekend across Tampa Bay, Monday kicks off pretty quietly with a cloudy, yet mainly dry start.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]