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Michael J. Ward


1952 - 2020
Michael J. Ward Obituary
Michael J. Ward, 67, of Fairbanks, left this world Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, after an extended illness. He will be deeply missed.
Known to all who knew him as "Chumliey," he was a kind and generous person, selfless and considerate to all and deeply loyal to his family and friends. 
Chum was born at St. Joseph's Hospital in Fairbanks in 1952, the only son of the late Janet and Richard Ward and was raised in Fairbanks. He graduated from Lathrop High School in 1971 followed by an apprenticeship in the Carpenters Union. 
Chum went on to become a Master Carpenter, for decades a fixture at Tilly & Co./Tanana Builders, all the time creating useful structures that will stand for decades to come. Others in the trade knew Chum for the high quality of his work, attention to detail, and precise finish work. Everyday, people throughout Fairbanks enjoy the benefits of his craftsmanship, without ever knowing the man behind the work. But Chumliey didn't care as he neither asked for, nor expected, compliments for his achievements. He was truly a humble and selfless soul with qualities that would benefit us all. 
Like many in his generation, Chum grew up with the love of fast machines and good rock 'n' roll music. Even in his last days Chum could be found masterfully restoring old Hodaka motorcycles accompanied by old favorite tunes by Jethro Tull and The Who. The music no doubt helped him remember those crazy fun days so many years ago at the Fairground motocross track or the Competition Shop where he'd spent many a happy hour.
During the '80s and '90s Chum's love for speed turned to boats and the Yukon 800 Riverboat Race specifically. He joined the crew of "Murphy's Law," and eventually crewed on "Rocking Chair" and "Tesoro Alaska Odyssey" in numerous Yukon 800 races. While never one to brag, you could get a good race story out of him with a little prodding.
In the late '90s Chum's interests turned to gold mining. For several years he traded his carpenter's belt for a miner's helmet on a new adventure. Joining his good friends at the Hall Family's Linda Creek operation, Chum proved his mettle. His skills as a carpenter and mechanic proved invaluable during his years there. Asking about gold mining always brought a smile and twinkle to Chum's eye.
His many friends and associates around town will miss Chum. But most of all he'll be missed by his wife and best friend Dorothy Hertlein and her extended family. Chum and Dorothy spent many happy decades together planning for many more. Dorothy quietly and skillfully cared for Chum as his health declined. She was his rock, and Chumliey's last days were comforted by her kind presence.
At Chum's request there will be no formal service. However at his passing Chum was planning an old favorite, "The Wonton Festival" to share time with his friends and family. We'll honor that plan and share the day with his memory later this spring. Ride on, brother; gone but never forgotten. See you on the other side. 
Arrangements are entrusted to Fairbanks Funeral Home.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Feb. 14, 2020
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