Remembering Ned Tyson
At the AIR fifth anniversary party, April 18, 2009
Nov. 3, 2010
Amelia Island's running and walking community lost a friend this week. George E. "Ned" Tyson died Monday after an unbelievably courageous battle with ALS. He was 64.
Ned was a champion of helping folks of all ages and abilities improve their health and fitness. He was a member of the Nassau County Health Improvement Coalition and founded our local walking club, the Walkin' Nassau Volkssport Club. As an AIR member and walking advocate, he worked with David Caples and John McBrearty to help set up the Katie Walk for Life, a 5K/10K walk now held annually in conjunction with the Katie Ride for Life.
Ned also was a founder of the Pirates on the Run, which is now one of AIR's signature races. The first 10K race, in 2004, was Ned's idea, and he worked with Joe Gerrity and Steve Nicklas to develop it. Joe writes: "I remember Ned went out and rented a U-Haul and picked up tables for water stops at the Rec Department and set them up by himself. You know how heavy those tables are! We designed the course together and he went to the high and middle school and talked to the bands, to play live music at 3 spots on the course. He dug up sponsors and worked the entire race.
"When the Super Bowl came to Jax, Ned jumped through all the hoops to become a Super Bowl- sanctioned event. If you have never done it before, you can't imagine the work involved."
The event became an AIR race in 2006, and we subsequently added a 5K. In 2009 the course changed to include a cross-country segment in the Egans Creek Greenway. Joe writes: "I think that one of the ultimate ironies is that Ned was one of the driving forces behind the Greenway bond (for preservation of the area). That is an important part of the present Pirates course."
AIR member Christina Tillman described her father as "a dear friend, teacher, mentor and more," and recalled the words of Maya Angelou: “'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' None of us will forget how Ned made us feel loved and taken care of."
And Ned himself wrote, a few days before his passing: "Farewell friends and family. Thank you for the wonderful memories -- 'til we meet again. Love, Ned."
Memorial services were held Friday at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in downtown Fernandina Beach, followed by a brief reception in Burns Hall -- which is now the annual headquarters of the Pirates run.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: The Northeast Florida ALS Association Chapter, 3242 Parkside Center Circle, Tampa, FL 33619, or the Fernandina Beach High School Baseball Program, Attn: Coach Ken Roland, 435 Citrona Drive, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.
Our sincerest condolences to Ned's wife, Jackie, and all of their family.