Edward R. Zane was born on February 2, 1899 in Arlington, Tennessee. In 1914, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and was discharged in 1919 in Washington, D.C. He earned a law degree from Georgetown University in 1921, then completed a master’s in accounting at Pace University two years later. Zane moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1929 to work for Burlington Industries as an accountant. He served as mayor of the town of Hamilton Lakes, which merged with the city of Greensboro in 1957, and then from 1957 to 1961 was a member of the Greensboro City Council. He served as chairman of the mayor's Advisory Committee on Community Relations in 1960, which was integral in securing the desegregation of Woolworth and the Kress stores.
Edward Zane also served as chairman of the Board of Trustees of L. Richardson Memorial Hospital, which served the city's African American community, and was president of the North Carolina A&T State University Foundation. In 1970, he received the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his contributions. Zane died on June 24, 1991, at the age of 92.