Ghost Ship Memorial Artist Chris Edwards Passes Suddenly

Published On June 13, 2019 | By Rob Arias | In the Neighborhood, Obituaries

Chris Edwards, the artist behind the popular Ghost Ship Memorial docked in Emery Bay, has passed away at the age of 32. “He passed peacefully in Hawaii,” noted his mother Sue Perkins in a communication to us.

Details of his passing were not immediately known but Edwards had been living in Hawaii WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms). WWOOFing involves volunteering ones time and labor typically on organic farms in exchange for room and board.

Edwards’ last Instagram post on April 29th noted he was in the process of pursuing another WWOOF opportunity. “It’s been great here but it’s time to move on … overall life is nice.” He passed away on June 9th.

Edwards, a Petaluma native, noted fond memories of passing the stretch of I-80 along Emeryville when we interviewed him in 2017. Edwards was aware of the history of the space as a public art gallery for passing motorists including The Red Baron and our legendary mudflat driftwood art.

Edwards was inspired to create the piece after the tragic Ghost Ship Warehouse fire that claimed 36 young lives in East Oakland in 2016.

The piece quickly became beloved by the community inspiring healing, wonder and curiosity. “I live in Emeryville and this memorial is very meaningful to me,” noted one commenter that captured the sentiment of many others.

Edwards devoted significant amounts of his personal time and money into fortifying and repairing the ship that was repeatedly thrashed by the elements. Edwards noted that maintaining and repairing the ship was extremely taxing on him. “It’s very difficult to move a boat that (with rock ballast) weighs almost a half ton, against the waves, alone at 10 p.m. especially when I forget glow sticks for the anchor markers,” he noted in one instagram post alluding to health problems. “Going to try to get out there tomorrow before my day long doc appointment (my health is not so good [at the moment].) Let’s hope it holds for now.”

In April, the anchor that was holding the ship snapped and it washed ashore along frontage road. Edwards, in Hawaii, communicated that he was aware of the situation and that it had been picked up. “Luckily pirates saved it last night. I’ll repair it when i get home from Hawaii.”

Mother Hopes to Preserve Son’s Legacy

“Chris was dedicated to assisting his fellow community members through tough times,” his mother provided. “Art, science, horticulture and advocacy were his life missions and he will be missed by many.” He was described as not only a talented artist, but a scientist and musician who had a scholarship for his baritone saxophone play. Edwards is survived by his mother, his father Mark and two siblings.

Edward’s mother is trying to track down the whereabouts of the installation and help preserve her son’s legacy. “This memorial needs to remain visible to all of the Bay Area.”

Edwards’ mother has started a facebook fundraiser to help pay for repairs of the installation and get it returned to the water. If you have details of the whereabouts of the ship, please contact us and we’ll pass this information along to Chris’s mother.

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

7 Responses to Ghost Ship Memorial Artist Chris Edwards Passes Suddenly

  1. Nicole Gruen says:

    I am so terribly sorry. I just tried to donate to the Go fund Me and it’s not active right now. I will keep an eye out. I love his work.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am so very sad to hear of Chris Edwards passing. My husband and I always look for the “Ghost Ship”. We will definitely donate to keep it going. Please post an update when links are good.

  3. The Ghostship storage location has been found to great relief of his mother – as soon as repairs can take place all things considered. – it is planned to be restored and put back in public view. With of course everyones consideration of how unexpected and sudden has been this tragic loss.
    Your contribution in any form to this valuable social public art work – that meant so much to Chris and so many of us will help provide the resources to make this happen hopefully all the sooner. So amazing that the community has risen up to this challenge with such speed, generosity and offers of help. For more news and opportunities to help in all ways at this time please check in or comment via the FB donation page . https://www.facebook.com/donate/314638729455788/10219611227419432/

  4. Anonymous says:

    The ghost ship fire was in 2016.

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