William Edward “Ed” Rafferty, Engineer, Veteran, Bassist, Astronomer, Husband, Father, and most importantly, “Pappy”, left for a never ending jazz gig in the sky on Sunday, August 20, 2023 after a long yet courageous battle with cancer.
Ed was a resident of Long Beach, Mississippi and survived by his wife, Teryl Rafferty, his daughter, Heather Rafferty, step children, Ian Ziska, Rachel Ziska (Chris Chandler) and Aj Neyrey, siblings, Frances (Mike) Spruill, Marybeth (Pete) Kozakiewicz, Rebecca Mayfield (Gary Sowder) and John Rafferty as well as his grandchildren, Alexie Ziska, Ella Touchstone, Johnnie Blake and Oliver Phillips. He is survived by just as many cousins, nieces, nephews, and a host of long-time friends and bandmates.
He was preceded in death by his Father, Harry Rafferty and one Nephew, Jordan Rafferty.
Ed was born on April 21, 1954, in Jackson, Tennessee, to Harry and Johnnie Rafferty. He graduated from East Jefferson High School in 1972. The same year, Ed joined the Navy and soon after, set sail on the USS NEW ORLEANS which provided support in the Vietnam War, Pacific Fleet, as well as recovery operations for the Skylab II and Skylab III missions and most importantly, played bass guitar (a passion that started at 14 years old) in a band on board. This carrier went on to travel the world and he was a part of the soundtrack. When the NEW ORLEANS began its homeward trek, it brought Ed to San Diego, where he settled in, continued to serve his country, and began his quest to dive deep into the abyss that was Jazz Fusion, fatherhood, racing go karts, astronomy and sailing before retreating back to Mississippi in 1990 and planting roots in Long Beach, where he met and married his wife of 31 years. At that time, Ed was a member of the Long Beach Yacht Club and he and his family and friends spent weekends racing his sailboat, Alceyone where they laughed their way across the finish line, over and over again. After retiring from the Navy in 1994, Ed dabbled in many things with the skills acquired during his service. Owning and operating Rafferty Communications was one of his more notable paths. More so for the fact that John Travolta stopped in one day over the work he did, but notable nonetheless. In 2005, he began working at Ingalls as the Project Engineer for the Aegis Destroyer Program, specializing in Aviation and Fiber Optics and continued with that career path up until his passing.
Ed was an avid fisherman, lifetime Boy Scout, and recently volunteered with his grandson for Troop 204 out of Gulfport. He was a member of the Gulf Coast Jazz Society, the New Orleans Jazz Musicians Hall of Fame and a long time, dedicated member of The Ministry of the Silly Walks. Ed was an avid supporter of the fine arts programs both at Long Beach and Gulfport High School and the bassist for The Bay St Louis Trio, K4RM4, and previously the Dave Knorr Trio and quartet as well as many other musical ensembles. Ed gave bottom to the music, he played with grace, honor and commitment to the function of the bass and was someone doing it his own way. He was a true pioneer of sound and light and although he lived a less than average life span, Ed did not live an average life. He charted the seas, skies,and radio waves and was quick to remind us that there were “no wrong notes” and also “no net”. He was brave, and in the end it was the way he braved hope that set him apart from the crowd. He laughed inappropriately at every chance, learned what he wanted to learn, fixed what he wanted to fix and loved who he wanted to love. We know that Ed is now spending his days fishing with his Dad and nights playing music with the greats who have gone before him. Probably too loud.
Time Marches on!
The family would like to thank Saint Joseph’s Hospice who took great care of him and remind you that we will be celebrating his life and colorful attire is encouraged.
Visitation will be from 10 am - 11 am on Friday, August 25, 2023, at Saint Peter's By-the-Sea Episcopal Church with a prayer service to follow at 11 am. Interment will be on Saturday, August 26, 2023, at 4 pm in the Rutledge-Salem United Methodist Church Cemetery, Iuka, MS.
The Riemann Family Funeral Home, Long Beach is serving the family and online condolences may be shared at www.riemannfamily.com