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Beaver Manufacturing founder dead at 87

Ed and Nonie Needham make their way to the podium to receive the R.O. Arnold Award at the 2009 Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting. (File Photo)

Ed and Nonie Needham make their way to the podium to receive the R.O. Arnold Award at the 2009 Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting. (File Photo)

COVINGTON — Funeral services for community leader and Beaver Manufacturing founder Ed Needham are Wednesday.

Needham died Sunday at age 87. The family will receive friends from 10 a.m. to noon at Covington First United Methodist Church prior to the funeral at 2 p.m. The Revs. Douglas Gilreath, Jan McCoy and Don Martin will officiate. Interment will follow in Covington City Cemetery.

Flowers are accepted, or donations may be made to Covington First United Methodist Church, 1113 Conyers St. SW, Covington, GA 30014.

Needham and his wife Nonie were presented with the R.O. Arnold Award by the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce in 2009. The award recognizes a lifetime of community involvement and achievement.

The Needhams were nominated by Bill Loeble, chief operating officer of Beaver Manufacturing in Mansfield, founded by Ed Needham in 1971. Upon Needham’s passing, Loeble said, “As an innovator, he was ahead of his time who created a better way to do something. More importantly, he knew the value of the people who made his products and always treated them as family. As a leader, he reached out to our community neighbors with a passion for education and quality of life, and that’s his legacy.”

In their efforts to improve education for local children, the Needhams were responsible for the construction of 100 picture lap books that were distributed throughout Newton County schools, have been partners in education at Mansfield Elementary School, established the Sophomore Excellence Leadership Forum and donated to Smart Technology at Georgia Perimeter College and the Police Academy at DeKalb Technical College.

They also donated land for Beaver Park in Mansfield and Newton County Fire Station No. 6. They are members of First United Methodist Church of Covington, where Ed Needham served on the board of trustees.

The Needhams moved to Newton County in 1969 and opened Beaver Manufacturing, which supplies industrial fibers, two years later.

Prior to founding Beaver, Needham had worked for Bibb Manufacturing Company in Porterdale. Needham developed some ideas for specialized adhesive treatment of yarn, so he and fellow Bibb employee Kenny King struck out on their own and opened Beaver Manufacturing — named for the national symbol of Needham’s native Canada — in an old cotton warehouse in the heart of Mansfield. A few years later, Needham bought out King and the company has been family-owned ever since. The company today is a global leader in its product line.

A chemical engineer, Needham taught himself computer programming and wrote the production tracking software for Beaver Manufacturing. In 1989, Gov. Joe Frank Harris presented Needham with the Spirit of Business Award.

Needham lived in Matanzas, Cuba, from 1955 to 1960, while employed by Cuban Rayon Company. He was a seasoned world traveler, visiting many South American countries, including Venezuela, Columbia, Brazil and Peru, during his business travels.

Survivors include Nonie, his wife of 62 years; children and spouses, Edward W. Needham, of Covington; Kathy Needham and Robert Rhodes, of Social Circle; Bryan A. Needham, of Oxford; and six grandchildren.