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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Truly a good man"

I received an email this morning concerning the weather here in Atlanta. It was too nice. Sunny, bright blue skies. Was that OK?

Today was the day of Dr. Ward's funeral and campuswide memorial service. Gray clouds and rain seemed more appropriate for such a sad day, the email said.

I thought about that for a second. A sunny day ... Actually, I don't think Dr. Ward would have wanted it any other way.

That sunshine is just Dr. Ward smiling down from heaven upon all of us at Emory, a community he made his own for 80 years. He would want us to celebrate his life not mourn his passing.

Gray skies are the last thing you'd expect the day of Dr. Ward's memorial service.

Early this morning, Dr. Judson C. "Jake" Ward 33C 36G, dean of alumni (his senior portrait is at right), was laid to rest in the family plot in Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta. In the afternoon, hundreds of his friends gathered at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church to say goodbye. A reception followed at the Miller-Ward Alumni House, Ward's campus home the final nine years of his life.

David Jones 76T, senior pastor of Glenn Memorial UMC was there in Cobb and he was the first speaker at the memorial, where a portrait of Ward, ringed in bright flowers, decorated the front. Jones said it was appropriate that Glenn host the service for Ward, who worshiped there and also taught Sunday School for 56 years, "No one was more at home in this sanctuary or on this campus than Jake Ward," he said.

"Imagine talking to the same people for 56 years. That's something no preacher can get his head around," said Larry Bauman 55T 71T, Glenn Memorial UMC pastor, emeritus, of the class that was eventually called 'the Jake Ward Class,' because of its iconic instructor.

More than one speaker recalled their first meeting with Ward. "I was a guest in his office for a couple of history lessons," said President Jim Wagner. Some of those lessons Ward had typed for his benefit, Wagner quipped, just in case he forgot them.

"Jake knocked on my door at Vanderbilt in 1969," said President Emeritus James Laney 94H, who at the time was a professor at the Nashville school. "He is responsible more than anyone else for my coming to Emory," said Laney, who would serve as dean of the Candler School of Theology before being named president in 1978.

"I later found out who he was," said Laney of Ward, who was then dean of the faculty at Emory. "I'd never had a dean knock on my door. I had never had an assistant dean knock on my door. I had always been summoned to them.

He was my first boss here and my first mentor," Laney continued. "And his appointment as dean of alumni was magical. He brought life and zest to the alumni association."

"He was truly a good man."

-- Eric Rangus, director, communications, EAA

Read more about Dr. Ward's life

See a slide show of Dr. Ward through the years

Share your memories

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