Edward Joseph Hnatt passed away peacefully from this earth on the evening of November 16, 2023 at home on his ranch in Calvert, TX in the presence of family. He was a proud member of the First Baptist Church in Hearne for 30 years. This man of the Greatest Generation had run the race for 96 years, having survived the Great Depression and served in the second World War amongst many other trials. He was a father and husband foremost and remembered well for his hard work and endurance - evident by his longevity and perseverance. Edward had overcome great odds as an orphan in his youth, causing the separation from his four brothers and one sister, all of which have preceded him in death. Edward is survived by his wife of 71 years, Arvelene, who was his primary caregiver earnestly for his last few years in life. The love that he and Arvelene shared over these many years is a testament of faith and devotion, unmatched by many in today’s standards.
Edward was born in Crabtree, PA in 1927 and ultimately moved to Houston in the 1950’s – a port that he frequented during his service in the US Merchant Marines. It was here that he began a startup business repairing lawnmowers, eventually building one of the largest bicycle and lawnmower retail and service stores in the southern US at its time.
Some of Edward’s most repeated stories from the late 1960’s through the 1980’s were about his personal relationships with some of the most well-known astronauts, since his bicycle shop was located next door to the newly built (at the time) NASA Johnson Space Center. These and other personalities would often stop by his shop to talk “with a common man” who had more self-taught engineering know-how than the many highly educated visitors doing business with him. He was proud of the fact that he only had an 8th grade education and combining this with very hard work, was able to build not only a small business empire but proudly one of the finest homes located in one of the most affluent regions of Houston.
Edward was a “man’s man”, who’s toughness and grit was formed by exposure to unique hardships that are somewhat uncommon today. He enjoyed baseball games, boxing matches, and deer hunting during the few times that he would break away from the hard work in supporting his family to give them opportunities that he never had. Perhaps this may be why those who have known him, knew the “great heart” and compassion that he had. One of his notable achievements, though he would not brag, was his winning of the overall Muy Grande deer contest in 1976.
He was blessed to formally “retire” in his early 50’s but make no mistake, the choices he then made would be far from restful. After his Friendswood home flooded in 1979, Edward sought out to begin a new phase of his life for his family in rural America. He purchased a small farm in Galveston County and began re-learning duties that he had recalled growing up with horses and cattle and ultimately hay making. In 1992, he and Arvelene bought a large parcel of land just north of Calvert, TX where they moved and expanded his hay farming and cattle ranching full-time in the hills of Central Texas.
Edward’s greatest joy of his later life was his grandson Coulter, who also preceded him in death, as he would often speak of the day to visit him in glory.
Edward is also survived by his two sons Steven and Michael, and two granddaughters Audrey and Codey. He was a faithful man who knew Jesus and humbled himself in frequent discussion of the simplicity of God – to obey and love Christ with all of your heart.