Edwards, Ward Emil 88 years of age, died Sunday night, November 3rd, 2013, surrounded by his family at his home on Lake Minnetonka. Ward was born on January 19th, 1925 to Ward and Amy Edwards. His early childhood was tough. His father left the family when Ward was 6 years old. Ward had to care for his mother and his younger brother Richard through the Great Depression. This did not prevent him from having a good time. Material things were scarce during the Depression so Ward had to be very inventive, making his own soap box race cars, basketball backboards and hoops from old garage doors, (the first hoops were too small, so you had to be a very good shot!) water-skis from scratch, iceboats, a diving helmet from an old coffee can and a bicycle pump, rubber-band guns from old inner-tubes, in short, anything he could scrounge up he used to make something. Ward's nickname was Egg. This was given to him by Don Buck's (his life-long best friend) father after the two had destroyed old man Buck's prized flower bed. Don's father yelled, "Is that that damned fool Egg?" Ward went to Roosevelt High School. He walked a 1/2 mile there and back every day. He graduated and in 1943 went directly into the Navy V-12 program at the College of St. Thomas. In 1944 he became an Eagle Scout. In 1945 as an Ensign, he was assigned to a small supply ship in the Philippines. His ship, the USS YP-278, was what they called a "Tuna Clipper" and supplied the southwestern Pacific war theater with food and supplies. After WW II ended, Ward continued his education with a BA from the University of Minnesota, where he also met Donna Mae Knutson, his wife to be. He then went on to earn a MA in Hospital Administration from the University of Iowa. Ward went on to a very distinguished career in hospital administration. His administrative residency was at the Mary Fletcher Hospital in Burlington, Vermont from 1952-1954. From 1955 to 1957, he was the Assistant Administrator at the Middlesex Memorial Hospital in Middletown, Connecticut. He then moved his family back to Minneapolis to begin work at Lutheran Deaconess Hospital as Assistant Administrator to Sister Anna Bergeland. When Sister Anna retired in 1960, Ward became the Executive Director of the 280 bed hospital. He held this position until 1973 when Deaconess was closed. During his tenure at Deaconess, Ward was instrumental in creating and working with many outreach programs to help inner city residents, such as the Model City program, a nationwide program designed to aid inner city neighborhoods, the "Visiting Nurses" program, which provided in-resident nursing visits to senior citizens, and the Family Health Program, a program to assist minorities in navigating the medical system. He also established the Early and Emergency Care program in conjunction with Model City. This was one of the first urgent care clinics in Minnesota, 18 years ahead of its time. The Ward E. Edwards Medical Building was named in his honor in recognition of his service at Deaconess. In 1976 Ward became Vice President at North Memorial Hospital, thus embarking on the second half of his career. He worked at North until 1987 when he retired from his full time position. He then continued to work part-time at North until 2006. During his tenure at North he pioneered and promoted the idea of Wellness and Preventive Care. To this end he was one of the founders of the Get in Gear race and the Robbinsdale Whiz Bang race. Both races promote fitness and wellness and both are still run each year. He also raised over $4.7 million in conjunction with many community organizations and activities such as the United Way program, North Memorial's Cancer program, Volunteer Retirees Task Force, and STEP, Services To Elderly Persons. When he wasn't being paid to work, he was volunteering. Ward put in over 30,000 hours of community service during the last 30 years. Over his career Ward has served on hundreds of boards and community organizations. He has received many awards and accommodations for his tireless and dedicated service to the community. He was highly regarded by all that worked with him as a visionary leader and a courageous social reformer who was dedicated to serving his fellow man. Throughout his life Ward was an avid sportsman and athlete, who loved to swim, ski, run, play softball and most of all to be on "The Lake" which for him meant Lake Minnetonka. He loved to sail on his boat, the Whitecap III and in his later years to cruise the lake on his Chris Craft Roamer, the Osprey. As Robert Frost wrote: "I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" Ward was husband to Donna Mae for 63 years, brother to Richard and father to 3 children, Terrie (Ron), Laurie (Hersch) and Scott (Heidi) and grandfather to Brynne, Sullivan, Ricka and Sydney, all of whom love and miss him dearly.
A memorial service for Ward will be held at the Good Shepard Lutheran Church, 3745 Shoreline Drive, Spring Park, MN 55391, on Sunday, November 17th. A fellowship hour will start at 1:00 PM with the service starting at 2:00 PM. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to North Memorial Hospital's Safe Journey program, The Cookie Cart Teen Training Program, or donor's choice. The family would like to thank all the staff at North Memorial, Presbyterian Homes, Park Nicollet Methodist Hospice and our caregiver Florence (a true angel) for their dedication and caring which helped to make Ward's last days comfortable and peaceful. Gearty-Delmore 952-926-1615
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.