Noted conservationist and Elon alumnus Eddie Bridges ’57 dies

Bridges, a student-athlete at Elon, would go on to be recognized nationally for his conservation and environmental efforts.

Eddie Bridges ’57, an ardent supporter of wildlife and land conservation throughout his life, died Tuesday, May 18, at the age of 87.

A resident of Greensboro, Bridges was selected for the Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame for his work to support the preservation of wildlife and the outdoors. Bridges was awarded with the Budweiser Conservation Award in 2004, and the Field and Stream Hero Conservation of the Year Award in 2012.

Originally from Morganton, N.C., Bridges was a student-athlete at Elon, running track and playing for legendary football coach Sid Varney. Following graduation, Bridges, a biology major, opened a sporting good store with a friend.

In 1977, Bridges became a member of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, on which he served two six-year terms. His most notable accomplishment was encouraging his fellow commission members into issuing lifetime fishing and hunting licenses. Those fees have since raised over $100 million for the nonprofit N.C. Wildlife Endowment Fund, envisioned and created by Bridges for the state in 1981. Following his service on the commission, he started the nonprofit N.C. Wildlife Habitat Foundation in 1989, which has supported dozens of conservation projects as a cost-sharing partner with donors.

In a 2019 article in the Greensboro News & Record, Bridges told a reporter that he estimated he had raised more than $200 million for endowments for nonprofits, state programs and Elon.

Bridges was a steadfast support of Elon throughout his adult life. In 2003, he was awarded with the Elon University Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. The Alumni Association recognized his initiatives and programs in support of wildlife conservation. Bridges also served on Elon’s Athletic Foundation from 2001 through 2003.

A celebration of life service will be held at the Grandover Resort on Wednesday, June 23, from 3 to 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to NCWHF (Eddie C. Bridges Legacy Memorial), P.O. BOX 29187, Greensboro, NC 27429 or the Sid Varney Scholarship at Elon University.

Read the full obituary for Eddie Bridges here.

Read the News & Record’s coverage of his death here.