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O.C. shooting: Business owner recalled as 'a friend to everyone'

February 21, 2013 |  1:42 pm

Melvin EdwardsOn the day his life ended, Melvin Edwards' employees wondered why they hadn't seen him.

The owner of Rubicon Gear, a Santa Ana aerospace and defense industry manufacturer founded by his father, Edwards had never missed a day, had never called in sick, was always punctual, workers said.

"Unless he was on vacation, we would always hear his voice. He would arrive at the office early, around 5, and he would always have time to greet me -- or anyone else. He treated us all like family," said Frank Salazar, controller at the firm of 60 employees.

PHOTOS: Shootings at multiple locations in O.C.

Edwards, 69, was killed Tuesday in a shooting rampage in which a 20-year-old part-time college student allegedly blazed across the heart of Orange County, stealing cars and shooting people.

By the time Ali Syed allegedly pulled onto an Orange boulevard and shot himself, three people were dead, including Edwards.

As chairman of the board, Edwards would have quiet talks at his desk with his son, Ryan, who was president of the company.

MAP: Orange County shootings

Everyone called the elder Edwards "Mel," a man described as "generous and respectful."

Employees received gifts at Thanksgiving and Christmas and after this week's shooting Ryan Edwards brought in grief counselors to assist staffers, employees said.

“Often, you can tell a man by how he treats everyone," Salazar said. "Mel was that rare person who is a friend to everyone. He was constantly cheerful, grateful for what he has at work and in life.”

Jeff Osborn, Edwards' brother-in-law, said he was "a devoted husband, father and grandfather and was always generous with his time and heart.

"One of his many friends from childhood sent an email to the family that described him best. He was one of the most balanced men he had ever known ... never angry, never rude and always the true adult in room."

Edwards, who attended USC and graduated from La Salle High School in Pasadena, served as an Army combat officer during the Vietnam War. He was a lifelong Dodger fan.

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-- Anh Do

Photo: Melvin Edwards. Credit: Department of Motor Vehicles

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