NEW YORK TIMES: Mrs. Edwards was born Mary Elizabeth Anania on July 3, 1949, in Jacksonville, Fla., the daughter of Vincent J. and Elizabeth Thweatt Anania. Her father was a Navy pilot, and the family moved often in America and abroad. She attended Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She enrolled in the university’s law school, where in 1974 she met Mr. Edwards, four years her junior and the son of a textile worker. After graduating, they were married in July 1977 and began legal careers. In the next two decades, he became a multimillionaire, mostly by winning medical malpractice cases. Her career was low key, in bankruptcy and public service law. Elizabeth preferred her middle name and used her maiden name professionally.
They were not very interested in politics. After the birth of Wade, in 1979, and Catharine, known as Cate, in 1982, they embraced parenthood, he coaching soccer, she joining parent-teacher groups and arranging her work schedule to spend afternoons with the children. But the storybook family was shattered on April 4, 1996, when Wade, a high school junior, was killed in a car accident driving to the Edwardses’ beach house. Devastated, the parents stopped working. For months, Mrs. Edwards read her son’s textbooks aloud at his grave and spent sleepless nights in online bereavement groups or staring at a weather channel. Eventually, the couple decided to change their lives. MORE