Ward enjoyed outdoors, worked in fishing, mining
A memorial service celebrating the life of Jonathan Baylor Ward, 26, will be held 2 p.m. Friday at the American Legion. He died in Haines Nov. 8.
Ward was a fifth-generation resident, whose great-great grandfather helped build Fort William H. Seward. "Jonathan loved the outdoors," said mother Connie Ward.
His ashes – along with friend Jon Graham's – will be scattered atop Mount Jonathan F. Ward, named for an uncle. Some also will be taken to a family homestead in Illahe, Ore ., where Ward enjoyed swimming, snipe hunting and tubing on the Rogue River. "He never wanted to leave Illahe," his mother said.
Jonathan was born at the Haines Medical Center on Aug. 29, 1987 to woodworker and miller Thomas Ward and Connie Ward, former Community Youth Development director and owner of Connie's Café. The second of the couple's four children, he attended Haines schools and earned his GED.
"Jonathan preferred playing on his own. He loved to tear things apart and rebuild stuff," especially small engines, said father Tom Ward. Jonathan liked riding snowmachines, shooting guns, playing video games, and "blowing stuff up and causing trouble out the road and coming back to town to read about it in the local newspaper. It was just mischief; it wasn't malicious or anything," Ward said.
Jonathan's first job was working at the Lutak fish plant. He deck-handed on the fish packer Neptune for three seasons. Captain Don Axelson praised him as diligent, reliable, hardworking and exceptionally strong. "He could shovel 60-70 tons of ice a trip. That was his job, and he was so strong he did it with ease. When you live and work on a confined space, it's just as important to get along. Johnny was a pleasure to have on board. It's a huge loss," Axelson said.
Ward also worked at the Kensington Mine for a contractor building dams, and was waiting to hear on a permanent position there, his family said. In the meantime he had been helping with his father's small sawmill. "I didn't need a loader, I had Jon. He was my forklift," Tom Ward said.
Connie Ward said her son was especially fond of Chilkat Lake and she has special memories of the year the family lived at a remote cabin when Jonathan and his three siblings were young. "Jonathan would stay in the water until he turned blue, and swim as much as he could right up to when it froze," she said.
Friend Gary "Bubba" Hinkle said Jonathan, whom he called by his nickname, "Johnny B.," would jump at the chance to head out the road to Flower Mountain, 25 Mile, 16 Mile or the shooting range and that he enjoyed duck hunting, crabbing, shrimping and playing pool.
"Jonathan had the kindest eyes. You could see into his soul. It was like he focused on my heart," said aunt Jeani Adams.
In addition to his parents, Ward leaves siblings Lillian A. Ward, Thomas A. Ward III, and Jeanine M. Ward, as well as grandmother Marge Ward, uncle Reb Adams and cousin Zachary Jacobs in Haines; many aunts, uncles and cousins throughout Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Louisiana, and California, and his black Labrador retriever Milo.
Donations in Jonathan B. Ward's memory may be made to the Haines Volunteer Fire Department and ambulance crew at P.O. Box 849, Haines, Alaska 99827.