Triangle Native Featured Nationally By StoryCorps, Dies

Oct 20, 2014

Edwin Lanier (left) with David Wright at StoryCorps in Durham, N.C. 2006
Credit StoryCorps

StoryCorps fans might remember the stories told by Edwin "Eddie" Lanier, of battling alcoholism and finding peace. Lanier died on October 14th. He was 68. 

The first interview aired on NPR's Morning Edition in 2006. In that interview, Lanier talked with his friend David Wright. After almost drinking himself to death, Lanier had been sober for five years.

When he was a child, Lanier had been told by his father that alcoholism ran in the family.

Back then, Lanier was known as "Little Mayor" — his father was a two-term mayor of Chapel Hill, N.C. When he was 14, his father urged him to stay away from drinking."I'm an alcoholic just waiting for the first drink," his father told him. "And I refuse to take it."

Lanier said he would keep it in mind. But soon after, some college kids offered him and a friend a drink. Lanier accepted, and drank for more than 40 years.

It wasn't until after receiving his 28th treatment for alcoholism that Lanier got serious about quitting. His doctor told him he could be dead within two weeks.

It was then that Lanier visited his parents' graves, and pledged not to drink again. >>Read the interview transcript.

Lanier would regularly stand near an exit ramp, holding a sign that said "Homeless. Anything Will Help. God Bless." David Wright would often stop and hand Lanier a $2 bill and a can of tuna fish.

One day, Wright invited Lanier to his home to take a shower, and get some clean clothes. The two became close friends, though Lanier chose to remain homeless.

Four years later, Lanier told Wright that he didn't think he could survive another winter in the woods. Wright persuaded his friend to move in with him.

StoryCorps made this animated video about the men's friendship. The video was published Dec. 18, 2013.

David Wright (left) and Eddie Lanier at StoryCorps in Durham, NC May 2014.
Credit StoryCorps

When StoryCops returned to Durham in May, 2014, David Wright and Eddie Lanier recorded what both men knew would be their final interview. Lanier had entered hospice, and the doctors told him that he'd be dead in a month.

“It's best to go when your time is right," Lanier said. "It’s been a trip. I’ve got some good people pulling for me."

Late in life Lanier found a new perspective.

"The only way I get through a day... is to say I’m going to make my life worth while by saying something of value," he told Wright.