Ed Kehl is businessman and former NFL lineman. He played over four years in the NFL and played the longest with the Green Bay Packers.
Kehl was born in Clearwater, Florida, and was named George Young Jr. His biracial parents separated and Kehl lived happily with his paternal grandmother in Gainesville while his father worked and lived elsewhere. Kehl’s father told him that Kehl’s mother wanted him to spend the summer with her, and although his father was against it, Kehl’s grandmother was for it, so he was taken by his mother to spend the summer. At the end of the summer, his mother changed Kehl’s last name from Young to McWhorter, the last name of one of her ex-husbands, and moved numerous times, eventually stopping in South Carolina. His father did not know where Little George was.
The Deseret News detailed some of Kehl’s difficult childhood:
- Before Kehl’s mother took him, she joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and they attended weekly worship services. One Sunday, according to Kehl, the bishop’s wife observed the mother’s ill treatment of Kehl and came to his defense.
- When she saw it happen again, the bishop’s wife offered to take him and Kehl’s mother agreed. A short time later, Kehl recalls a station wagon taking him and his meager belongings to the bishop’s home. For the next year or so, he lived with the bishop’s family with eight kids on a military base. He then moved in with one of the bishop’s counselors for a few months. The counselor asked him a strange question.
- “What kind of family do you want to go to?” Kehl said. “I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know what adoption meant. So I’m like, I don’t know, I don’t care.”
Meanwhile, Nancy Kehl and her husband, Gary, lived in Utah and had already adopted four children. They also had three of their own children. While taking adoption classes for LDS Social Services, Nancy learned about a 12-year-old biracial boy from South Carolina who was looking for a family. She felt that she and her husband should take him. After Gary finally agreed, they filled out the paperwork and Kehl joined them in Utah. His name was legally changed to Edwin Daniel Kehl, but it wasn’t an easy transition.
At one point, Kehl thought he might be sent back to South Carolina. But Nancy calmed him.
- “I asked if anybody ever told you they love you? He started crying, ‘No, nobody,'” Nancy Kehl said. “I said ‘This mom loves you. I will always love you, no matter what you do.'”
At Brighton High School in Utah, Kehl lettered in football, track, and wrestling. He played defensive end at Brigham Young University and earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Kehl and his wife, Jana, are the parents of four children, including two they adopted. They took care of two foster children. They also had a set of twins that died in the early years of their marriage.
Finding His Birth Family
Kehl is one of the three biracial adopted children (including Bryan Kehl) of Gary and Nancy Kehl. The Kehl family has nine children, six of whom are adopted. His sister, Debbie Weaver, helped each of the adopted children find their birth families. When she found out that Kehl had searched with no success, she was determined to find them.
- Using names and information from genealogy websites, Weaver quickly tracked down three of Kehl’s siblings, including a brother named Eugene McWhorter in Ogden, his sister Sarah Howe Belanger in Florida and third sibling Jennifer Graham in Virginia. In meeting them in October , Kehl learned his mother had died around 1994. He also learned that Graham had kept a photo of him for 35 years while Belanger had named a Teddy Bear “George” after him.
His new-found siblings helped him find his birth father, Big George, who was still living in Gainesville, Florida. Ed called his father first, then he and his wife, Jana, flew to Florida.
- When Ed Kehl pulled up to Young’s home that October day, Big George was standing in the driveway with a huge smile on his face. Over the next few days, Kehl reconnected with long-lost family members, listened to stories about his youth and delighted in seeing photos of himself. He also recounted stories from his own life, which both pleased and saddened Young.
- “I can’t explain it,” Young said. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world. Just to see his face and get a hug from him was unexplainable. . . . The bad part of it is that I missed all of it (Kehl’s life).”
Kehl is grateful to belong to multiple loving families.
- “The way I look at it is we’re all in the same pool. We’re all swimming to try to make it back to the celestial kingdom. Along the way there might be some people that are struggling and we’ve got to grab them and pull them along,” Kehl said. “In our Kehl family we’ve got a strong group and everybody’s chugging along. We’re just going to keep grabbing people and adding them in the mix. It’s cool. Everything happens for a reason.”