Ward ‘one we could all depend on’
A memorial service for longtime resident and retired state Department of Transportation engineer Dave Ward will be held 1 p.m. Saturday at the Elks Lodge.
Ward died from prostate cancer March 26 at his Chilkat Lake home, with his wife Tony and her son Roger Keller at his side. He was 78.
Dave Ward was born in the former Army hospital at Fort Seward on March 25, 1934 to John B. “Jack” Ward and Frances Morris Ward. He was one of eight children in a family that kept a large garden and operated a combination grocery, hardware, and building supply store.
“My grandfather had the gold bug” and mined when he could, though never very successfully, while Frances ran the store, said Mike Ward, Dave Ward’s son.
Former sister-in-law Marge Ward remembered Dave fondly. “He was one of my favorite young people, back when he was young and I also was much younger. He was a nice quiet guy, and always so congenial.”
Ward played for the Pioneer Bar basketball team, graduated from Haines High in 1952 and studied civil engineering at Washington State University. On New Year’s Eve 1955, he married Louetta Howser, also of Haines.
Mike Ward said his father ran out of money and left college after three years, but learned enough to make a career as an engineer. He was hired by the Alaska DOT, working on harbors and waterways in 1960.
The family moved to Juneau, where he worked until 1987 on the construction and inspection of many harbors around the state, including the Haines boat harbor in 1964. He and Louetta raised four children.
Ward was an avid hunter, from hiking in the interior on annual Dall sheep hunts to stalking local moose. His family said he shot 60 or more moose. “My dad sparked my interest in hunting as a kid and he exposed me to the great outdoors as well. Every year we hunted together,” Mike Ward said.
For decades Ward’s wall tent camp on a bluff on the Chilkat River was a popular stop for local moose hunters boating in and out. John Katzeek said, “It was always nice to take a break and warm up at his fire and pass the time.”
After Ward retired he moved full-time to a cabin at Chilkat Lake, getting in and out by boat and snowmachine. He gardened, hunted, and fished. “He was always working on something for someone, a pump or a motor. Dave was the one we could all depend on,” said his sister Judy Weir, also a lake resident.
On December 11, 1991, Dave Ward married Tony at his brother Tom and Irene Ward’s home, with son Mike officiating. The two had met when Walker was working at the Quick Shop, which along with Outfitter Sporting Goods, Liquor store, and a fish processing business, Ward had co-owned with his son.
Tony said she didn’t learn until later that Ward usually got free coffee, but when she started working there he began buying it to talk to her. “He was very sweet,” she said.
A visit with the Wards was the highlight of any lake trip, said Duck Hess. “You’d stop by the cabin and they’d get out food and mix you a drink. They were so hospitable. Stepdaughter Shawna Hogan said the family is grateful that Ward was able to live out his last days, “peacefully at the lake where he wanted to be.”
Dave Ward was preceded in death by siblings Bonnie, Rose, and Tom Ward. He is survived by brother Morris Ward of Lake Charles, La. and sisters Judy Weir of Chilkat Lake, Jeannie Sturrock of Juneau and Jacquelyn Ketterman of Waldport, Ore. and by several stepchildren, and by children Barbara Ward of Anchorage, Michael David Ward of Haines, and Shelly Mahar and Toni Sutton of Juneau. He had 19 grandchildren and step-grandchildren.