Obituary Major General William Francis Ward, Jr. Ret.
Citizen-soldier, Major General William Francis Ward, Jr., A.U.S. (Ret.), died peacefully on June 21, 2018 in Florida at age 89, following a series of strokes. Born in Everett, Massachusetts in 1928 to William Francis Ward, Sr., the son of a jurist and local politician, and Helen Schriber Ward, he was raised in Canton, Massachusetts, a small and politically active town outside of Boston.
In August 1991, the smoke from a thirteen-gun salute drifted over the parade ground at Fort Myer, Virginia as the Army Band (Pershing’s Own) played traditional Cavalry songs and the Third United States Infantry (The Old Guard) passed in review to mark his retirement as the last member of the West Point Class of 1950 to serve on active duty. In December 1986, President George H. W. Bush had appointed General Ward Chief, Army Reserve as the country's top citizen-soldier. He was also appointed the first Commander of the U.S. Army Reserve Command.
General Ward was a highly decorated combat veteran who led the U.S. Army Reserve during the Gulf Wars as the Commanding General of the Provisional Army Reserve Command and Deputy Commanding General of Forces Command for Reserve Affairs. He led 84,000 Army Reservists supporting Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He also served with the 77th Army Reserve Command, Fort Totten, New York, including as the Commanding General, before returning to active duty decades later.
His wife of 43 years, Elaine Louise Wilson Ward, of Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, and whom he met as a “yearling” (freshman) at West Point, predeceased him in 1993. Four of their five children survive him: Gary Ward of Nashville, Tennessee; Michelle Ward-Brent (Steve Brent) of Chevy Chase, Maryland; Gregory Ward of Tampa, Florida; Suzanne Nugent (John Nugent) of Highland Mills, New York; and seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his eldest son Jeffrey Ward (Robin Ward) of San Antonio, Texas in May 2018. His sister Mary McCaffrey and brothers Hugh and John Ward predeceased him, in 2017, 2015 and 1968, respectively. Many cousins, nieces, and nephews, mainly in New England, survive him. He is also survived by his second wife of 23 years, Marie-Louise Buchheit Ward of Melbourne, Florida and Chester, New York, and her children Marc Buchheit of Goshen, New York and Danielle Buchheit of Greenville, New York.
General Ward graduated from West Point in 1950 as part of Cadet Company H1 where he played baseball and hockey and developed a deep affection for the Hudson Valley. Nine days after graduation he married Elaine and was later assigned to a tank company at Pyongyang, Korea where he saw the inside of a tank for the first time twenty minutes before his first engagement. In February 1951, Lieutenant Ward became the reconnaissance platoon leader with two tanks, an infantry squad, a support squad, and scouts. On June 21, 1951, he was wounded during an engagement for which he received a Purple Heart. Upon recovery, he served as an aerial observer for the remainder of his tour, flying 167 combat missions.
Upon return from Korea, he earned a Master of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (1956) and subsequently a Bachelor of Law from LaSalle University; an honorary Doctor of Law was conferred by Southern Vermont College and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. General Ward also completed the Armor Officer Advanced Course 1150th US Army Reserve School and the Command and General Staff Officer Course. He was an instructor at the 1150th US Army Reserve School and completed the Economics of National Security Course, Industrial College of Armed Forces, Civil Affairs School, Special Warfare School and the Army War College in 1972.
After Harvard, he and Elaine left New England for Rockland County, New York and he began a thriving private sector career in Manhattan while serving in the U.S. Army Reserves for the next 30 years. They settled in Montebello (Suffern) where Army football games, tailgating, Sunday brunches, and concerts were a family highlight for decades. Active in local politics, community, and theater, General Ward was President of the Ramapo Central School District Board of Education (1966-1972, 1982-1987); Suffern High School Board of Education; member, Suffern Good Samaritan Hospital Facilities and Planning Board (1980-1985); Chairman of the United Way, Rockland County (1992-1994); county Chairman, Citizens for Kennedy and Johnson (1960); Democratic candidate for House of Representatives (1962); Chairman, Young Citizens for Johnson and Humphrey (55 counties New York, 1964); and campaign team member for Robert F. Kennedy’s New York campaign (1968). He was also a member of the Society of Harvard Engineers and Scientists; the Financial Executives Institute; Newcomen Society; Reserve Officers Association; American Friends of Vietnam; Veterans of Foreign Wars; American Legion; Disabled American Veterans; the Pilgrim Society; the Army and Navy Club; Squadron "A" Club; the University Club (New York); the Harvard Club (New York and Washington Chapters); and the National Press Club (Washington, DC).
As a member of Boards of Advisors, he supported venture capital entities, banks and community leadership committees, including: Quotron Electronics, Inc.; Empire National Bank (Bank of New York); Eastern Savings Bank; Apple Bank for Savings; Funk and Wagnalls Publishing Corporation; Aerospace Education Foundation, Inc.; Greater New York Bank for Savings; Corinthian Broadcasting; United States Army War College Foundation; Trustee of the New York Military Academy (1982-1986, 1991-1996, and Trustee Emeritus, since 1996), Executive Committee (1996-2003) and Chairman Audit Committee (1996-2004); Trustee. Historical Society Rockland County (1993-1995); West Point Fund (1979); Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation (1980-1992); Trustee, Chairman, and Vice-Chairman of the New York College of Podiatric Medicine Board of Trustees (2000 to 2018).
General Ward’s thirty-year private sector career spanned finance, publishing and investment banking. He was an Economic Analyst with E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc.; Secretary of the New York State Bridge Authority; Division Controller and Corporate Director of Ansco-Ozalid’s Division of General Aniline and Film (GAF) Corporation and GAF Marketing Services. He was Assistant to the President and Vice President for Finance and Administration at publisher Grosset & Dunlap; Dun & Bradstreet Controller and Vice President, leading the publishing merger with Rueben H. Donnelley Corporation; Board Chairman and President of Dun-Donnelley Publishing Corporation; Executive Vice President and Vice President of the American Cancer Society of New York; Treasurer of Gestam and Chairman and President of the Realicam, real estate investment-banking firms. His academic appointments included teaching business at Vassar College; Clinical Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science and Public Health at New York University's (NYU) School of Dentistry; lecturer at NYU’s Real Estate Institute; and adjunct faculty of NYU’s School of Commerce, Accounts, and Finance.
His military decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster; Legion of Merit; Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters; Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; World War II Victory Medal; Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp; National Defense Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Korean Service Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Ten Year Device; the Military Order of Estrella de Carabobo* (Venezuela); United Nations Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Unit Citation; Army Service Ribbon; Combat Infantryman Badge; Aircraft Crewman Badge; and Army Staff Identification Badge. The Association of the United States Army awarded him the Major General James E. Rudder Medal in 2001. He also received the World War II Victory Medal for his service in the Civil Air Patrol (1944-1946). In 1989, he received the annual award of the Civil Affairs Association for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Civil Affairs. In 2000, the Senior Army Reserve Commanders Association inducted him into its Hall of Fame.
A viewing will be held Saturday, June 23, 2018, at Beckman-Williamson Funeral Home, 5400 Village Drive, Viera, FL 32955 from 9:00-10:30 a.m., followed by a Catholic memorial service at 11:30 and reception at the Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne, Florida. Subsequent burial with full military honors at the United States Military Academy West Point in the coming weeks will include a Mass at the West Point Catholic Church, Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Interment at the West Point Cemetery and a Celebration of Life reception at the Officer’s Club will follow. Instead of flowers, donations can be made to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, 339 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727-9297 (https://setonshrine.org/) in honor of Elaine Wilson Ward.