Obituary: Edward Wachs
October 9, 1935 – August 5, 2023
Fiercely competitive, loyal, and loving, Edward Hamilton Wachs’ greatest gift to the world was his infectious love of challenge and the ways in which he inspired those closest to him to live life on their own terms, with no apologies.
With cutting sincerity and flashing blue eyes, Eddie could size up a challenge three steps ahead and push those closest to him to capture it with a level of finesse and audacity that they could only find in his close company.
A beloved uncle, adoring husband, brilliant race driver, record-breaking pilot and cunning entrepreneur, Eddie only knew one pace in life – full throttle.
Born on October 9, 1935 in Evanston, IL, Eddie was raised in Winnetka and Long Grove, attended Libertyville High School, and later enrolled in University of Colorado, where academics were no match for his love of the mountains. Ultimately graduating with a BA in Business from Northwestern University, Eddie entered the 5th Army Reserve and spent a few years working for Alcoa before joining his father at the helm of the E. H. Wachs Company, a steam fitting firm founded in 1883. Under Eddie’s tenure as the fourth generation to run the company, E. H. Wachs would grow from a Chicago-based outfit to a global manufacturing and innovation powerhouse in water, natural gas, and nuclear applications.
Eddie was also an irrepressible entrepreneur, building expansive service businesses in nuclear repair and the maintenance of fossil fuel and municipal water infrastructure.
Eddie’s true passion was going fast. First in race cars as a driver and a team owner – in CanAm and Indy Series and also at LeMans and second as a record-breaking pilot and owner of multiple service businesses for private aircraft.
Eddie was an extraordinary philanthropist in the arts, conservation, and health. He was most generous with his family and friends. He shared his life and adventures with so many and opened his exciting world to others without expecting anything in return.
His greatest love of all was his devoted wife, Sherry, to whom he was married for just shy of 50 years. They met in 1971 and became reacquainted later, marrying in 1981. Their story and partnership was one for the ages.
In addition to countless friends, many of whom he mentored not just in business but also in life, Eddie is also survived by sister, Marcia Dam, brother Charlie Wachs, and beloved Siblings-in-Law, Susan Dickson, Shelley Griffitts, Sally and Charles Smithgall, and Manuela Wachs. Eddie is also lovingly remembered by nieces and nephews: Eliot and Charlotte Dam; Chad and Chris Wachs; Charlotte and Christopher Dickson and Jessica Dean; Chas, Meghan Smithgall and Jessica Crocker; and children Thomas, Jackson, and Teddy Dickson; Ben and Fiona Dam; Griff Dean; Milo Chiles-Wachs; Carlos, Sofia, and Santi Smithgall; Jackson and Sally Crocker.
In early morning hours of August 5th, Eddie passed away the same way he lived every day of his life, fearlessly, and in the embrace of an adoring family. – WFO!
A private celebration of Eddie’s grand life will be held in the fall. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp or the Special Operations Warrior Foundation