John Lewis Ward, 81, Bee Branch and Conway, died Thursday, November 29, 2012, of complications from lymphoma.
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He was born in Damascus, Ark., on December 17, 1930, one of eight children of the late Rev. Roy and Mamie Ward.
He was a gifted musician, writer, and photographer, with a love of gardening, family, and the natural beauty of the land on which his retirement home sat in Van Buren County.
His wife of fifty-five years, Betty Chandler Ward; his daughter, Jenifer Ward of Seattle; and his son and daughter-in-law, Barry and Kristin Ward of Little Rock, survive him.
He was preceded in death by brothers, Bobby Ward and Gary "Butch" Ward; and a sister, Marketa Evans.
He will be missed by brothers, Joe (Dena) and Bill (Emelene) Ward; sisters, Loweta Turney and Judy Roach (Bill); numerous nieces and nephews; and countless friends and colleagues.
John Ward was Director of Public Relations for Winthrop Rockefeller from 1964 through 1971, and served as campaign manager for his successful reelection as governor in 1968. Earlier, Ward was a professional musician traveling on the road, and was a high school band director at Hampton, Ark., before going into journalism and newspaper work full time. Ward founded the Institute of Politics and Government in Arkansas, and was its chairman for several years. Later, he spent 12 years as Managing Editor of the Conway, Ark., daily newspaper, the Log Cabin Democrat. He wrote a political biography of Winthrop Rockefeller, published in 1978 by Louisiana State University Press.
With his brother, Bill, he founded Toad Suck Daze, a spring community wide celebration in Conway, and served as its first and continuing chair for several years before leaving Conway to join the faculty of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where he taught journalism. He was a member of the board of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and served as chair for four years. He became Director of Information Services for the University of Arkansas System until he was named Vice President for Public Affairs at the University of Central Arkansas in 1988. He served in that capacity for eight years. During those years at UCA, he taught journalism and was also president of the UCA Foundation. Ward was then invited to be campaign manager for Winthrop Paul Rockefeller in his quest for the office of Lieutenant Governor. After that successful campaign, Ward wrote another book about the elder Rockefeller – this one about his philanthropy, entitled "Winthrop Rockefeller, Philanthropist," published by the University of Arkansas Press in 2004. During that time, Ward joined the administrative staff of the University of Arkansas System, where he remained until January 2005, when he was named Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Winthrop Rockefeller Center (now Winthrop Rockefeller Institute) atop Petit Jean Mountain. He served for many years as chairman of the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lectures Committee, and served on the committee until his death.
He also served as a director of the "Oxford American," a literary magazine published at the University of Central Arkansas. He held the American Cancer Society's Special Citation for a series of articles he wrote about laryngectomies, the Chairman's Award for Outstanding Service from the Institute of Politics and Government, "Man Of the Year" from the Arkansas Press Association in 1981, the "Distinguished Service Award" from the Arkansas Press Association in 1982, and the "Distinguished Service Award" from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1983. He was a charter member of the Arkansas chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, Society of Professional Journalists, and served as its president. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock named Ward Distinguished Alumnus for 2011. He graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Little Rock University (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock).
A memorial service will be held at Central Baptist Church, 3333 Dave Ward Dr., Conway, Ark., at 10 a.m. on Monday, December 3, 2012.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to the John and Betty Ward Scholarship at the University of Central Arkansas (John and Betty Ward Scholarship, UCA Foundation, 201 Donaghey Ave., Box 4986, Conway, AR 72035).
The online guestbook may be signed by visiting www.rollerfuneralhomes.com.
Published in The Log Cabin Democrat from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7, 2012