Robert J. Ward, 71, of West Hazleton passed away Saturday evening in Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.
He was born in Hazleton, son of the late Thomas and Mary (Vetashick) Ward. He was a member of Annunciation Parish at the Church of St. Gabriel, Hazleton.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served during the Vietnam War in the U.S. Army Material Command, attaining the rank of sergeant.
Robert started his career in fire service at the age of 14 in the Hazleton Rescue Squad. He joined the West Hazleton Fire Department and became a career firefighter for the Borough of West Hazleton in 1975, and was appointed chief on Jan. 1, 1982, a position he held until retiring in 2011. Along with his duties as chief, he was a state fire instructor and taught at community college fire training centers in Luzerne, Bucks, Harrisburg and Butler counties, to name a few, and practically every fire company or department in Northeast Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Six County Fireman's Association, the Pennsylvania State Firemen's Association and a number of state and national instructor's associations.
In addition to his duties as fire chief, he served the Borough of West Hazleton in the capacity of code enforcement officer and zoning officer.
Robert was preceded in death by an infant brother; and a grandchild, Annsley Ward.
He is survived by his wife, the former Shirley Banks; his sons, Robert Ward and Patrick Ward; two brothers, Thomas Ward, Hazleton; Joseph Ward and his wife, Teresa, Hazleton; five grandchildren, Elleysea, Andrew, Daniel, Avaleah and Annalia Ward; and nieces and nephews, Kelly Ward, Julie Derr, Mary Lombargo, Lynn Ward, Eric Ward, Tom Ward Jr., Karen Kisenweather and Diane Stefanick.
Friends, relatives and firefighters are invited to attend the Mass of Christian Burial at at 10 a.m. Saturday at Annunciation Parish at the Church of St. Gabriel. There will be a gathering and a procession of honor into church for fire companies and firefighters upon his arrival at 9:15 a.m. COVID-19 protocols will be enforced.
Interment will be held at the convenience of the family.
A vehicle procession will follow at the end of services at the church.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Robert's memory to the Lehigh Valley Burn Foundation or the West Hazleton Fire Department Santa Fund would be appreciated by the family.
Arrangements are under the direction of Frank J. Bonin Funeral Home Inc., Hazleton.