Faces of Parkinson’s – Respected Veteran & Successful Business Man

Ed Vihlen - Faces of Parkinson.jpg

Meet Ed Vihlen. He is a true Floridian, successful business man and a respected Navy Veteran. Ed is thankful to have two families. His first wife, Emma, returned to heaven leaving behind a son, Mike and daughter, Kim. Earlier this year Kim’s daughter, Emily had a little girl named Savannah making Ed a Great Grandparent. Sometime after Emma had passed, Ed met a charming young lady at the Lion’s Club named Flo. Ed married Flo and was blessed with another little girl named Mary Jo and boy named Ed. Their two families have grown making Ed a grandfather to Von, Layla and Colin.

When Ed was just 18 years old he volunteered for the service. During WWII he was aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard a CV 31 – large Air Craft carrier. Once he was done serving in WWII Ed decided to study Engineering at the University of Miami. Shortly after Ed graduated he decided to serve in the Korean War. He was stationed on the USS St Paul a CA – 73 which was a heavy cruiser. After Ed completed his service in the Korean War he wanted to put his degree to use. Ed and his brother then opened a construction business and called it, “The Vihlen Brothers.”

While Ed took pride in serving for his country he always knew that construction and architecture was his calling. The Vihlen brothers built luxurious custom homes all throughout Miami. Three of the homes they built were on the popular TV series Miami Vice. Many of their homes were featured in national magazines and received popular notoriety. The Vihlen Brothers went on to win prestigious awards such as, the Most Outstanding Concrete Structure in Florida in 1988 and the South East Aurora award for the most coveted symbol of building and design in the home building industry. At the age of 65 Ed decided to retire and started to appraise houses and spent the next 18 years doing so.

Ed lost his sense of smell over 20 years ago and was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 8 years ago. Ed and his wife Flo attend the Parkinson’s support group in Altamonte and have enjoyed connecting with others in the community who understand the struggles Parkinson’s can present.

This year, Ed has celebrated his 90th birthday and is looking at Parkinson’s differently. In the beginning Ed was frustrated that he had to give up so many things like hunting, his four-wheeler, and his truck. After some time had gone by Ed eventually came to terms with the diagnosis and encourages anyone who is diagnosed to stay active and connect with others who face similar struggles.

Every year Ed looks forward to the annual Walk for Parkinson’s fundraiser. He believes it’s a great tradition, but more importantly it is important to talk with your friends and neighbors about Parkinson’s disease. Raising awareness about Parkinson’s disease is important to supporting the cause and can lead to finding a cure.