Robert R. Ward (93)
Birth: September 19, 1930
Death: February 4, 2024
Robert R. Ward passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by his family, on February 4, 2024. He treated his body as he treated his tractors. He got every last bit of life out of it with a little duct tape, baling wire and a lot of hope. His resolve to fight his failing body never faltered to the end. He died with the many bumps and bruises of life, quite literally.
Bob proudly served his country from 1951-1953 during the Korean War. When he returned, he worked in the oil fields and started farming. He met Dorothy at his aunt’s restaurant, Flossie Mae’s, where she was working as a waitress. They married in 1957. Growing up during the depression taught him to be frugal, and that lesson was woven through the fabric of his life. He continued to farm with the same Farmall Super M tractor that he bought new in 1954 and the International 806 tractor that he bought new in 1968.
Through the years, Bob served on the Grayville School Board, served as Gray Township Assessor, sold Pioneer seed, and was a 70-year member of the Grayville American Legion. He served as Commander of the James M. Helm Post 696 American Legion for several terms.
Bob was never one to take a vacation, but he enjoyed spending time with his family. He enjoyed sharing local “treasures” with his kids. When his kids were young, he would take them up the road to swing across a creek on a grapevine while collecting hickory nuts in the pasture. He would take them to see what he called “the 8th wonder of the world” which was a limestone formation near the Ward Place. He enjoyed bike rides with the kids, and later motorcycle rides when he got two Bridgestone 60 motorcycles.
When it snowed, he would pull a sleigh behind a tractor, pick up the neighborhood families, and drive to the longest hill for sledding. When he had the privilege of grandkids, he would “school” them during summer break, imparting his endless wisdom on them. And on many Sunday evenings during the summer, there would be a chicken fry at the Ward farm for neighbors and family. Bob was always the taters and onions fryer.
Bob had the privilege of participating in Honor Flight of Southern Indiana in 2019 with his brother Byrom. They had the opportunity to visit memorials built to honor veterans’ service to the nation. He farmed until he was 90, then reluctantly quit when he could no longer get on the tractor. He was the epitome of a farmer.
“…It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners; somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church; somebody who would bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says that he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does” — so God made a Farmer.”
He was born on September 19, 1930 to Byrom Frederick and Frankie Stella Ward. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Dorothy; 3 children: Gary (Linda) Ward, Debbie (John) Gray, and Jean (Dan) Dick; 3 grandchildren: Jake (Jennifer) Ward, Jessica (Kyle) Roosevelt, and Daniel (Stephanie) Gray; and 4 great-grandchildren: Kylee, Zeke, and Bowen Roosevelt, and Jack Robert Ward. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Byrom and Jack, sisters Martha Rector and Marguerite Bond, and grandson Joshua Gray.
Visitation and funeral service are Saturday, February 10, 2024, at Cook Funeral Chapel in Grayville, Illinois. Visitation is at 10 a.m. and funeral is at 12 noon. Burial with military honors will be in Oak Grove Cemetery in Grayville, Illinois.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Joshua Gray Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Cook Funeral Chapel in Grayville, Illinois, is in charge of arrangements.