Ward D. Belding Jr.

Walnut Creek, California

Mar 15, 1941 – Jun 27, 2018 (Age 77)

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Ward D. Belding, Jr., passed away peacefully on June 27 at the age of 77.

Planner, traveler, hiker, singer, Ward was a generous spirit and friend to many.

A son of Ward D. Belding, Sr., and Helen Elizabeth Belding, Ward was raised in South Pasadena, California. There, he developed a lifelong love of hiking and the outdoors through his association with the Boy Scouts' summer camps in the Sierra Nevada. For a six-year period, from 7th through 12th grade, he rose early each day to deliver the morning Los Angeles Times.

Later, through a Times competition among newspaper carriers, Ward was awarded a full scholarship to attend the four-year college of his choice. He chose Pomona College and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics.

In the summer of 1959, prior to his first year at Pomona, Ward visited Japan with an ecumenical volunteer program, to travel and conduct service projects. The following summer, he toured the Soviet Union as part of a student cultural exchange sponsored by the National Council of Churches. Travel and the perspectives gained through cultural exchange remained important to his core values throughout his life.

After completing his bachelor's degree, Ward was selected as a Fellow in Public Affairs (Los Angeles) with the Coro Foundation. He met his future wife, Patricia McFeely, who was also a Fellow, in his Coro class. He then served for two years in the Peace Corps in Chile, working on rural economic development projects. Upon returning to the United States, Ward attended Syracuse University, where he earned a master's degree in economics. He joined the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) as a planner in 1967, prior to the opening of the BART system in 1972. He served 32 years as a planner and manager at BART before retiring in 1999.

An avid hiker, Ward had visited most of the East Bay Regional Parks many times. His favorites were Morgan Territory and Sunol. He had backpacked in the Sierra Nevada and also trekked in the Himalayas on two occasions. With his brother, Ward hiked a substantial portion of the pilgrimage trail, the Camino de Santiago, in northern Spain.

His other interests included Masters Swimming, iPhone photography, and gardening with California native plants. The family's Pleasanton home was featured at various times on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour. However, Ward's lifelong passion was singing, especially music for choral ensembles. Starting with several years' participation in a liturgical boys choir in South Pasadena, he went on to sing with a number of groups, both in college and during his later years. These included many Bay Area choral groups, including the Oakland Symphony Chorus and Chamber Chorus, Berkeley Chorus Pro Musica, the choir of St. Augustine's Church (Pleasanton), the Valley Choral Society, Encore, Coro D'Amici, Soli Deo Gloria (formerly the Bay Area Lutheran Chorale), the Berkeley Bach Cantata Group, and the Berkeley Faculty Club Monks. As a member of the Oakland Symphony Chamber Chorus in the early 1970s, Ward was recorded as a backup choral singer on Van Morrison's "Snow In San Anselmo." The same group performed as additional cast in a San Francisco Opera production of Wagner's Gotterdammerung. They also memorably sang in one of their own concerts from a catwalk near the ceiling of Oakland's Paramount Theatre.

More recently in retirement, Ward had participated regularly in the Pleasanton July 4th pageant, dressing as Uncle Sam and leading the crowd in singing patriotic songs. Friends recall his entry in the 2012 KDFC Star Spangled Sing-Off.

Ward had many interests that he loved and pursued with energy, but even more important to him was sharing those interests with friends and colleagues throughout his life...from college, from BART, from many choral organizations, from the hiking fraternity, and from his community. He enjoyed meeting new people, he cherished relationships with long-time friends, and he valued the memories of shared adventures. This was particularly true at the end of his life.

Ward is survived by his wife, Patricia, and their two daughters, Susannah and Eileen; his brother, Richard, and his wife, Sharon; and their children, Drew and Annie. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's, 4730 Table Mesa Dr., Suite J-200, Boulder CO 80305; 1-866-358-0285 or davisphinneyfoundation.org.

Guest Book

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Ward was a wonderful and kind man who was a pleasure to be around. I was blessed when our paths crossed.

We will miss our hiking buddy. Ward created this photo collage for us.
Bob and Cynthia Flaherty

We will miss our hiking buddy! Ward created this photo collage of one of many hikes together. Bob and Cynthia Flaherty

Ward became the first of two men to join our AAUW east bay hiking group where we all learned to love him. PEACE Fran C.

During my years at BART I always found Ward to be an important resource and in many instances a great partner in developing critical research projects both, qualitative and quantitative, to support marketing and information important to carrying out the transit system's mission. Maybe even more important was the fact that he was a delightful and caring human being and his wide range of interests never failed to astound me. I first saw him perform at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire years ago...

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