Joseph W. Ward

WARD, JOSEPH W., 71, a former Courier-Journal reporter, cycling author and magazine writer, died September 12, 2013 of complications from multiple myeloma.

He covered a variety of beats for the newspaper from 1968 to 2002, and served as chief of the Bluegrass Bureau in Lexington during the 1970s. While in Lexington he covered mine explosions, cave-ins and strikes in the Eastern Kentucky mountains. He also covered the formation of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County government, and taught two semesters of beginning writing at the University of Kentucky journalism department.

He was a longtime labor writer in Louisville. He wrote a Courier-Journal Magazine piece on the Bingham family squabbles that led to the sale of the Bingham media companies, which earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination. He covered women's affairs for the paper's Accent Department, including the selection of the first surrogate mother and the subsequent controversy and birth. He covered the National Women's Conference in Houston in 1977, when 20,000 women descended on that city under the auspices of a presidentially-appointed commission. The goal was to forward women's causes and the contentious gathering was led by then Congresswoman Bella Abzug. He closed out his career covering agriculture and technology.

He was an early-adopter when computers moved into the newsroom. He fiddled with code in the early days and created some programs that a few reporters and secretaries in the building used to file expense accounts.

Ward was a longtime cyclist, a member and officer of the Louisville Bicycle Club and a nationally certified cycling instructor. He rode his bike from his Crescent Hill home to work at the paper for 25 years, beginning in 1977. His accumulated miles added up to more than twice around the earth at the equator. After retirement he sat down and wrote a book called Joe Ward's Wheeling around Louisville, published by Butler Books. It included maps and other directions for 25 bike rides in Louisville and out into the countryside nearby in Kentucky and Indiana. It contained a primer on bike selection, riding and rudimentary repairs and pointed out sites of historical and other interest. It was a local best seller.

Following that, he wrote Wheeling Around the Bluegrass, which covered horse farms and points of historical interest from Ward's earlier days in the Bluegrass Bicycle Club in Lexington. That was a local best seller, too.

Also in retirement, Ward wrote for Louisville Magazine. He became active in Crescent Hill neighborhood affairs and served as secretary for the Crescent Hill Community Council from 2003 to 2012. He also served as editor of the council's newsletter for several of those years.

Ward was a graduate of the University of Montana and Indiana University, which he attended in that order after completing a four-year hitch as a Russian linguist in the U.S. Air Force.

He was born on a farm in Montana, one of 11 children. His ashes will be taken to Montana and buried at the homestead plot. His mother, Teresa Ward, 98, of Choteau, MT, is among his survivors. Louisville survivors include his wife, Suzanne Ward, and his daughter, Senlin Ward and son-in-law, the Rev. Dr. David Dillard.

The family will host a memorial gathering on September 24, 2013, from 5:30 - 7 p.m. at the Peterson-Dumesnil House, 301 S. Peterson Ave., Louisville.

In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to Hosparus, 3532 Ephraim McDowell Dr., Louisville, 40205.


Published in The Courier-Journal on Sept. 15, 2013