James Howard Ward, wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, brother, teacher, coach, author, friend and one heck of a strong-willed fighter, lost his 12-year battle with cancer on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, at St. Joseph Hospital, Lewiston, Idaho.
Born in Aberdeen, S.D., on Feb. 13, 1926, to Howard Ward and Alvira DeWald Ward, he was the oldest of four children. A destructive hail storm the day after his parents wedding was the beginning of the eight-year losing battle his farmer parents waged. Five weeks after the youngest child, Alice, the only girl, was born they left for Oregon. They arrived by train on May 29, 1934, where Alviras aunt and uncle purchased a farm for the family in Days Creek, Ore. A new chapter had begun ... at age 17 he graduated from Roseburg High School, as he had been recruited by the big city after his sophomore year and he had moved to a room in a boarding house, as he had quite the reputation as a basketball player (as a sophomore had scored 420 points in 20 games, a record that stood for many years).
He joined the Navy in 1944 and served on an LSM warship during the World War II; he regaled us for almost 60 years with his military experiences and was very proud of serving his country. Honorably discharged from the Navy in 1946.
Upon returning home he attended Oregon State College, graduating in 1949. He married Darlene Hiller and moved to Hermiston, Ore., to teach science and coach at the high school; together they had five children, Linda, Cynthia, Roxanne, Marilee and Keith. They divorced in 1965. He coached, at both the senior and junior high level, basketball, baseball and football. In 1954 he took his baseball team to the state championship. Jim (Dynamite Jim as he is affectionately called by some alumni) was active in sports for the rest of his life as a coach, player, critic, official and play-by-play announcer.
In 1967 he married Minnie Shepard, becoming the stepfather to her eight children, changed careers and became a salesman for NY Life. He was the top producer in the country in 1974. Minnie got lung cancer and passed in 1984. 1985 he married Janet Snarr and her four sons and they ran the Greyhound bus station in Umatilla, Ore. Shortly thereafter, the opportunity arose to move to Lewiston, Idaho, and be the owner/operators of the Greyhound bus station. He saw this as a great chance for golf 360 days a year and to be 100 miles closer to his children in Spokane. He loved the Lewis-Clark Valley and raising their rambunctious sons. Janet died of cancer in 2003.
In 2008 he met the love of his life, Della Schultz, online. He was a firm believer this is the only way to find your life mate, and they have enjoyed the last four and a half years with each other. One of the wonderful things they did together was to take a trip with their Scamp and revisit his birthplace, see many of his relatives and Della's hometown, LaCrosse, Wisc.
Among the accomplishments he was most proud of was his masters degree, hole in one, shooting his age when he was 72, city councilman, writing his autobiography, Fourth & Goal, his rose gardens, his wonderful wife, his great-great-grandson was born three weeks ago and he got to meet him just hours before he died.
Jim is survived by his sad and loving wife Della; daughters Linda Denman (Nick), Cynthia Griffith (David), Roxanne Eneroth (Ken), Marilee Stephens (Cecil), Susan Whitewater; sons Keith Ward (Stacey), Todd Snarr, Ryan Snarr (Tami), Hal Snarr (Lynn), Rodney Snarr (Crystal); sister Alice, brother Bill, 32 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild, Jonah Jarman and last but not least Bosco. Preceded in death by his mother Alvira, father Howard and brother Arthur.
The family would like to express their appreciation to the doctors and staff that gave him such wonderful care, especially to Dr. Shah, who Jim said was more than a doctor he was a friend.
The last motto that came to him was, In the great scheme of things it really doesn't matter.
Memorial service will be held at Mountain View Funeral Home, 3501 7th St., Lewiston, Friday Jan. 11, 2013, at 1 p.m.; reception to follow.