2005 Friends Recipient
Robert & Ethel Ward Family
Robert Brooks Ward, son of Sheldon and Myrtle Jamison Ward and the grandson of educator, statesman and clergyman Joseph Ward, who founded Yankton College, was born July 28, 1915 at Faith, South Dakota. He attended a country school at Maurine, South Dakota, graduated from Newell High School and received a B.A. degree from Yankton College. In December, 1941, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, attended Officer’s Candidate School, was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and achieved the rank of Major during his service in World War II.
Ethel Flint Ward, daughter of Jacob F. and Clara Flint, was born on the farm one half mile south of Viborg, South Dakota, on December 9, 1918. She attended and graduated from the Viborg Public Schools and received a B.A. degree from Yankton College. In 1941 she began her teaching career in Hurley, South Dakota, teaching vocal music and English and directing the Turner County Chorus of over 400 voices.
Sunday afternoon of August 20, 1944, while on leave from military duty, Captain Robert Ward married Ethel Flint in the Methodist Church in Parker, South Dakota. He returned to active duty and she continued teaching in Hurley until the spring of 1946 when they went to Lawrence, Kansas, where Robert continued his education and taught mathematics at Kansas University. It was in Lawrence on March 5, 1947, that their first son Alan Brooks Ward, was born. That same year they moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where Robert was employed in the office and sales for Canada Dry. On January 18, 1949, their second son, Gary Burnell Ward was born. On June 22, 1952, their daughter, Rhea Claire Ward, was born.
One snowy day, March 13, 1953, the Robert Ward family moved to the farm one half mile south of Viborg to make their home with Jacob and Clara Flint. Robert became a farmer and an active leader at the United Methodist Church, and the community. The Pioneer Memorial Hospital & Health Services complex which graces the north end of Viborg became a reality in 1959 with Robert Ward as chairman and first president of the board. Robert served on the board for over 30 years.
Ethel began teaching at the Viborg in 1963 and retired after 30 years at the Viborg School in 1993. Her duties at the Viborg School included being the librarian, teaching vocal music and English.
Music has been an integral part of the Ward family. They have shared their talent in schools, churches and communities. The Ward family has sung at countless funerals in the Viborg area. In 1954 Robert joined the Tri-Valley Men’s Barbershop Chorus of which Ethel has been the director and advisor since 1955. This year they dedicated their annual program to Ethel for her 50 years of service to the Tri-Valley Barbershop Chorus. Alan is currently the director of the chorus. Gary and Alan started singing with the chorus as eighth graders and are still active members.
The Ward children have all been active members of the Viborg community. Alan, a certified organic farmer, graduated from Yankton College and received his Masters Degree in Math from the University of South Dakota. He taught math and science at Viborg for 22 years before retiring from the Viborg School in 1992. Alan currently teaches at Southeast Technical Institute and USDSU in Sioux Falls. He has been the director of the Tri-Valley Chorus for several years. He is also active in the Viborg Development Corporation and the United Methodist Church. Alan was also responsible for bringing Mark Valentine and the large American flag exhibit to Viborg on several occasions. Alan married Marlene Voog of Centerville in August, 1974. They live on a farm south of Viborg. They have two sons Michael and Daniel.
Gary is an attorney. He graduated from Yankton College and received his Masters Degree and Law Degree from the University of South Dakota. His law office is located on Main Street in Viborg. Gary is involved in the Viborg community as the city attorney for Viborg, a member of the Pioneer Memorial Hospital & Health Service board of directors since 1990, currently serving as the secretary of the board and is a member of the Tri-Valley Barbershop chorus.
Gary married Nancy Waltmire of Peoria, Illinois in August of 1974. They live in Centerville, South Dakota. They have three children, Joseph, Laura and Sarah.
Rhea attended Yankton College and in 1972 married Allan Hurlburt. They had two children, a son, Justin and a daughter, Mari, who was still born. In 1983 Rhea graduated from Sterling College of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and married Douglas Stuart. Douglas and their one son, Robert, were killed in a tragic truck accident in Tyndall, South Dakota in 1991.
Rhea currently lives in Irene, South Dakota. Rhea works for Skogen Company of Irene and continues her art business, “The Painted Woods”. She is involved in music and education in the Viborg Methodist Church.