NEENAH / MADISON – Bill Ward, age 72, died May 1, 2015, at the Bridgewood Nursing and Rehab Center in Neenah. Bill was born in Madison on July 28, 1942, and was the only child of Truman Lane and Viola Anderson Ward. Both mom and dad were music lovers. They met at the Ward-Brodt music company where dad was the co-founder and mom worked setting up music education programs. The family lived on Kensington Blvd and McBride Road in Maple Bluff, and later moved to Marshall.
Bill’s father died when Bill was only 10 years old. Bill lived and cared for his mother until she died in 1998. He started his education at Lakewood Elementary school and went on to Wisconsin High School, graduating in 1960. He attended the college of William and Mary, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1964.
Being an only child, he enjoyed spending time with his cousins, aunts, and uncles. His cousins, Bill and Malla, like to tell the story of Bill’s visits to see them in Rochester, N.Y. He would drive straight through, arriving before dawn, sometimes honking the horn to announce his arrival. Other trips to visit family included going to Miami to visit an elderly aunt. It was during these visits that he became interested in deep sea fishing.
Bill’s other “adopted” family members were the Winnequah Gun Club and the Mendota Yacht Club. Bill belonged to the National Rifle Association, Winnequah Gun Club, and Middleton Sportman’s Club. He devoted time and expertise to running shooting matches and upgrading shooting ranges. He won many awards in rifle, pistol, and skeet competition and was considered a Master Class Shooter. His skills led to national matches in Camp Perry, Ohio. He was a good man in helping others to shoot straight. He devoted much of his life to running sailboat races. He began by helping Ernie and Roselle Henkel in the late 1950s. He ascended to head judge and principal race officer for the Mendota Yacht Club and Inland Lakes Yachting Association. The sailboat races were always in good hands when Bill was in charge. Many residents along the lake remember the resonating cannon blasts for the start and finish of the races Bill ran on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.
In May 2006, Bill suffered from a fall that caused spinal cord damage and made him paraplegic for the rest of his life. Bill was big-hearted and always willing to help, whether it was solving some technical problem or just being a good listener. His big booming laugh was his hallmark, even after his injury.
If you want to make a donation in memory of Bill, please consider these organizations that were a very important part of his life: Bridgewood Nursing and Rehab Center Activity Fund, 125 Byrd Ave., Neenah WI, 54956; Winnequah Gun Club, P.O. Box 296, Lodi WI, 53555; or Mendota Yacht Club, P.O. Box 2062, Madison WI, 53701.