Obituary: John Ward Sr.

Devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle and friend

John Ward Sr. was born on March 5, 1928 in Blakely, Georgia to the late Laura Jakes Ward and Clifford Ward. The family moved to New Jersey a year after his birth. John was the eldest of three children. His sister Carmella Hamilton, and his brother Charles, both Newark, New Jersey residents, are deceased.

He was educated in the Newark public schools and earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University.

He married his high school sweetheart, Margaret Wilson in 1950. They met as members of the junior choir at Wells Cathedral in Newark and continued singing and participating in choirs until the end of 2013. Enjoying a long and loving marriage, they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last year. Two wonderful children were born to the couple, John Jr. and Michelle Denise.

Mr. Ward had many interests during his life. His work experience began in accounting during the early years of marriage, and in 1960 he entered the advertising field. After 32 years, he retired from Lewis Advertising as vice president and general manager.

He was well known for his love of trains and travel. He enjoyed classical music and was an accomplished fine artist and sculptor. He traveled with his wife, and often with his children and grandchildren, throughout the United States and Canada. The couple also traveled to Europe, Africa and China.  

He taught himself to play the piano “for his own amazement,” as he liked to say, and took cello lessons for five years beginning on his 80th birthday. A legacy of his art includes life-size portraits of each of his grandchildren. His paintings hang in the homes of many friends and relatives. In 1969 he had a successful one-man art show in New Jersey.

Throughout his life Mr. Ward was a devout Christian, serving the church in many capacities. In the early years of his marriage when church service broadcasting was pioneering in Newark, he served the Old Tabernacle as radio announcer and coordinator of the Sunday evening broadcasts.  He served as deacon and trustee in both New Jersey and Claremont.

He retired in 1993, and in 1995 the couple moved to California, where he continued his devotion to church work and community service. As a member of Claremont United Church of Christ Congregational, he served as senior deacon, and on the stewardship committee, and was a member of the Chancel Choir. He was a board member of Mount San Antonio Gardens, and an officer and member of the University Club of Claremont. He often played the piano for the residents of the Christian Heritage Nursing Home in Upland.

Mr. Ward was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle and friend. 

“His love of family was the consummate goal of his life,” his family shared. “His love for his family was not only verbalized, but was demonstrated daily by his loving actions and support.  His positive role model reflected his integrity, his humor, and his generosity. He always strove for excellence in continued learning and devotion to family, and encouraged these values to be internalized not only by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but by his nieces and nephews as well.

“His memory will last forever in the hearts and minds of those who love him.”

He leaves to mourn his passing his loving wife, Margaret; his devoted children: son John Ward Jr. and his wife Paula, daughter Dr. Michelle Denise Ward and her life partner Renee Henderson Ward; grandson Justin Aaron Ward and his wife Cassandra; granddaughter Melissa Brooke Ward; grandson Jason Adam Ward and his wife Jennifer; grandson Nadia I. Oliver Ward; and great grandsons Jason Alexander, Jamison Adam, Johnathan August and Jaxon Abel. He also leaves sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and many friends.

His granddaughter Melinda Blair preceded him in death.


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