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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC: Jim Ward, 70, died Monday, May 13, at his home surrounded by loved ones.
Born September 3, 1942, to James H. and Mildred (Knauber) Ward, James Wesley Ward graduated from Waldo High School in 1960 where he played baseball and basketball.
He attended Otterbein College where he was a member of the baseball team and freshman basketball team. He later attended The Ohio State University.
Jim originally wanted to be an English teacher and high school coach, but worked part-time for Columbus Coated Fabrics (Borden) in 1962 where his career was born. Upon returning home in 1968 after a stint in Germany with the U.S. Army, he worked full-time for Columbus Coated as the factory employment manager. That same year he transferred into the wallcoverings division with responsibilities for sampling, advertising and promotion. He moved up the ranks of Columbus Coated, living in Michigan and Kansas before returning to Westerville.
During this time he was blessed with two daughters, Karen and Jennifer.
After 11 years with Columbus Coated where he moved up to national sales manager, Jim joined GenCorp Polymer Products in Hackensack, N.J., as national accounts manager. In 1986, Jim was promoted to vice president of contract sales, and three years later he became President of Wallcoverings Unit for GenCorp (Omnova). In 1991, he was granted the highest honor in the wallcovering industry when he was given the Justin P. Allman Award. In reflecting on his career, he realized he'd been a teacher and a coach all along.
After more than 30 years of distinguished service in the industry, Jim realized his lifelong goal of early retirement in 1998. He relocated from New Jersey to Hilton Head Island, S.C., where he indulged his passion for golf at his home in Palmetto Hall.
In 1999, he married Patricia Clemons Ward and the two enjoyed a wonderful life of traveling and entertaining friends and family. Besides golf, Jim was active in the Hilton Head community, serving on many committees and boards while also volunteering and mentoring others.
Throughout his career, Jim finished every speech, interview or conversation with his favorite phrase, "Keep smiling." He embodied that sentiment throughout his life, connecting with people through laughter and his trademark wink.
A generous heart and forgiving nature were among his best qualities. He was a natural mediator and showed patience and grace in the most trying times.
Jim loved Ohio State football and basketball as well as pro golf and Major League Baseball where he was a longtime fan of the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets. He played golf at many of the great courses in America such as Pebble Beach, TPC Sawgrass, Bethpage Black and Harbour Town. He also saw baseball games in every Major League city, but Seattle.
However, his greatest joy was his family - immediate and extended - and his close friends.
Besides his wife Patricia, Jim is survived by his father James (Violet) Ward of Waldo; two brothers Jerry (Jackie) Ward and Michael (Kerry) Ward, both of Waldo; two daughters Karen (Rob) McCurdy of Westerville and Jennifer Ward of Mountainview, Calif.; two granddaughters Leela Ward Skelton and Katie Jaye McCurdy; aunts Anna Mae (Ward) Reiff of Waldo, Dee (Knauber) Beardsley of Montgomery, Texas, Jane (Knauber) Wood of Ashley and Jean (Knauber) Hines of Westfield; and uncle Richard Knauber of Augusta, Ga. Jim had many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews and great, great nieces. He was warmly embraced and loved by all in the Clemons family, and his two favorite companions Knoben and Hogan were by his side to the end.
He is preceded in death by his mother Millie as well as many aunts and uncles.
And in his final moments, Jim was smiling just as he told countless others to do throughout his life.
His family will greet visitors on Sautruday, May 25th from 9 to 11 a.m. at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Waldo. The memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. with burial to follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 135 Main St., Waldo, Ohio, 43356.
The Island Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements. www.theislandfuneralhome.com
Published in the The Marion Star on May 22, 2013