Jonathan Charles Ward, a proud and caring young nurse and our "JonJon," slipped peacefully away from this life in the predawn hours of Monday, May 4, 2009, at a hospital in Dallas after a year-long bare-knuckles daily fight with acute T-cell lymphoma/leukemia and multiple complications from stem-cell transplant. When he left us, Jon was literally in the protective, reassuring arms of his mother, Bene', who gently guided him into the arms of awaiting angels with orders to deliver his sweet soul directly to God's feet at heaven's gate. Jon was 26 years old.
Funeral: 2 p.m. Friday in Brown, Owens & Brumley's Joe B. Brown Memorial Chapel with the Rev. John Anderson officiating. Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park. Visitation: The family will receive friends 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.
Jon was born Jan. 6, 1983, in Fort Worth and spent his elementary school years in Watauga, attending Keller schools. The family moved to Granbury, where Jon grew up on the lake, surrounded by close friends and family. He graduated from Granbury High School in 2001 and decided to follow in his family's footsteps and chose nursing as a career. Jon was an "all-guy" kind of young man, playing high school baseball, riding his jet-ski, shooting pistols, running with his testosterone-driven buddies and he took their gentle-natured heckling over his career choice in stride. They all admired him for his decision to take care of people for a career.
Jon graduated from Weatherford College and earned his nursing license in 2003. During nurse training, he became interested in geriatric and rehabilitative care and decided to pursue that specialized interest. It was the right choice. Jon went to work immediately after graduation at Southwest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Fort Worth, where he was still employed up to the onset of his illness in May 2008. Jon flourished as a nurse and became known for his advanced knowledge and technical skills, but even more so for the depth of compassion he demonstrated daily in caring for the elderly, sick and injured.
In his brief six years as a nurse he positively impacted the lives of hundreds of his patients and their families. Jon became a mentor and teacher to new nurses and was an unyielding patient advocate who demanded excellence in care and attitude. Nursing came naturally to him and he was completely immersed in the profession, and it became to define who he was. He was proud of being a nurse. After his cancer diagnosis forced him to leave work and begin imediate chemotherapy, the first concern he voiced was not about himself, but about who was going to take care of his patients. He maintained and demonstrated this depth of character during the next year as he battled daily with his deadly opponent.
Jon was a healthy, strong young man who enjoyed physical pursuits, working out, riding his bicycle, Darth Vato music, dancing, laughing, sharing his outgoing sense of humor and practical jokes with his friends. During his treatment, multiple surgeries and eventual stem cell transplant, he never learned how to, or accepted being sick. Even as multiple complications ravaged his body, he never lost his will to fight, which was motivated by his desire to return to nursing work and start a family with his fiancee, Cassidi. He will be remembered most for his courage, dignity and character in the face of great odds against him. Doctors were constantly amazed at his ability to rebound from near-deadly episodes after the transplant and Jon was pleased that they learned much about human immunology and treatment combinations from his struggles through the months and months that followed. During the last few month, Jon spent more time in the hospital than at home, but never surrendered to the illness. Jon was still fighting when God finally relieved him of his burden.
Forever a warrior in our memories, Jon is now a warrior angel in God's elite corps of protector angels. He passed every earthly challenge and test and earned the spot. He continues to offer protection to those who cannot care for themselves, as well as those of us who has been left behind. Jon, dance again in heaven with the perfection that has been restored to you and know you are missed and revered for the days we were granted with you here in our lives. In your abscence, this world is now a less colorful place and gaping holes are left open in the many hearts you touched during your too-brief time with us.
Jon, secure our places there next to you until we meet to hold hands together again in heaven.
Jon was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Donald Boon, and uncle, Robert Hodges.
Survivors: Hundreds who loved him, including mother, Bene' Ward LaFayette of Fort Worth; fiancee, Cassidi Corbitt of Cleburne; father, Charlie Ward and wife, Bonnie, of Burleson; brother, Bobby Morton and son, Josh, of Fort Worth; grandparents, John and Opal Ward of Granbury and Jane Aills of Granbury; uncles and aunts, Garry and Kay Baker of Granbury, Johnny and Terrie Ward of Granbury and Beth Hodges of Granbury; and cousins, Jennifer Ward Trimmier and husband, Dustin Trimmier, of San Antonio, Mandy Baker of Granbury and Bobby Hodges of Granbury. Jon also leaves behind his beloved English Bulldog, Reggie.
Published by Star-Telegram on May 6, 2009.