Lennarth “Len” Edh
1934 – October 23, 2023
It is with great sadness to announce the passing of our “Dad,” Lennarth “Len” Edh who died peacefully at his home on October 23, 2023 at the age of 89.
Len was born in Sweden in 1934 where he learned a great appreciation for life, sports (especially soccer), nature, and living within your means.
After a knee injury ended his Soccer dream, he completed a degree in electrical engineering from Vasteras Technical College in Sweden in 1955.
While he was serving in the Swedish military, Len earned the rank of first lieutenant and completed his post electronic training in Radar School. After completing his education, Len started his professional career as an engineer at Andersson & Callenberg at a shipyard in Uddevalla, Sweden.
In 1962, he married, and he and his wife left Sweden for the beautiful weather of New Brunswick, Canada to work for Saint John’s Shipbuilding Co. as the company’s chief electrical engineer. Here, Len was engaged in constructing oceangoing icebreaking vessels and tugboats.
In 1966, Len and his family (now including two young children) discovered the beauty of California and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area where he became an engineer for Union Oil Co. After a few more years in the corporate world, he took a leap and pursued his entrepreneurial passion, and in 1973 Len purchased a small electrical construction company, Walther Electric Co. based in the Central Valley.
As the business owner of a growing company, Len started to become more involved in the construction industry and began to attend Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) meetings. At one of these meetings in Tahoe in 1979, he developed the courage to ask out the keynote speaker, who soon became the love of his life for the next 40 years – Barbara Keating.
In 1980, Barbara moved from New York to Modesto, and she and Len joined their two families – at that point consisting of seven children ranging in age from 13 to 21 - this alone ensured Len’s future path into Heaven.
With Barbara’s help, he focused on developing his employees and after many years in the court system (Walther Electric Company Joint Apprenticeship Committee v. California Apprenticeship Council), he was able to establish the first non-union certified apprenticeship program in the country. This court victory was later chronicled in the Wall Street Journal. As a result of this landmark case, non-union workers were now free to apprentice and become journeymen in the building trades free of union association.
Under his tutelage Walther Electric grew into the largest non-union electrical construction company in the San Joaquin Valley, at one point employing over 200 employees.
After nearly 30 years in the industry, Len began to look towards his retirement and began the process of turning his company into one owned by its employees as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
In retirement, Len finally had more time to pursue his hobbies including duck, pheasant, and moose hunting as well as taking many fishing trips to Alaska. Most of his free time though was spent with Barbara traveling, sailing or on the golf course.
Barbara and Len were grandparents to 19 grandchildren. Len loved his grandchildren and loved to take them to Sushi and of course getting another opportunity to lecture the next generation.
Len was a good man who treated the waitresses, dry cleaners, butchers, barbers and just people in general with respect and humor. One of his former employees summed him up nicely “Len saw things in people that they did not see in themselves.”
He is survived by his two children, Maria Lena Edh (Christopher Sparkes) of Monument Colo., and Stefan Edh of Modesto; four stepchildren, Christine Keating (Jay Mullins) of Portland, Ore., Thomas Keating (Starr) of Rescue, Timothy Keating (Janice) of Modesto, and Stephen Keating (Belinda) of Boise, Idaho; and his older brother, Bengt Edh of Landvetter, Sweden.
Len was preceded in death by wife Barbara Keating-Edh in 2021 and stepdaughter Carol-Lynn Moraca (Samuel Moraca).
–Ceres (Calif.) Courier
Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023