Generous, humble, and kind at his core, Dean never met a stranger he didn’t like and didn’t try to find a way to help.
His friends will all tell you he loved them best. His children and grandchildren will tell you the same. Whether he was driving four hours to cheer on his grandchild’s 45-minute ballgame, pretending he had appointments in Boone so he could bring his daughter breakfast at work, rearranging his schedule so he could pick up his grandson from school, or carrying his phone everywhere he went so not to miss his grandson’s call (especially if the Panthers or Tarheels were playing), Dean seized every opportunity to show his family they were always his top priority.
Dean genuinely loved others, those he knew and those he hadn’t yet met. For 42 years, partnered with his brother as owners of Ward’s Automotive, he worked day and night to ensure his customers never worried about dependable transportation.
He loved the people of Mississippi whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, making ten trips to the area because he felt drawn to help, and then returning as recently as last year to visit the friends he made while rebuilding their houses. You might have seen him demonstrating his love for cancer survivors, including his wife, as a volunteer at the annual Watauga County Relay for Life for over twenty years.
Defining who Dean truly was is an impossible task, but to say he was proud of his family and his life is an understatement. He proudly served his country in the United States Army, rising to the rank of Specialist 5 in his first year, while deployed in a security unit at the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
Dean’s pride for his family was evident to all who knew him because to know him was to know of every grandchild’s newest trophy, each time one of his daughters made him smile, and every time his devoted wife made him a new photo project of the family he loved so much. His family can only hope he knew how proud they were to claim him as their husband, dad, Pa, and brother.
Dean loved life and pushed himself to the limit every day, including cycling across North Carolina at age 69, flying high in his Piper Cherokee, racing one of his prized Mustangs, and hiking to every waterfall he could find with the love of his life, Judy.
He never backed down from a challenge, even when faced with an aggressive cancer diagnosis last summer. He fought cancer with courage, strength, and hope that inspired his family and carried him through to his very last day.
Many of Dean’s friends were not aware he was sick because he didn’t want special treatment or to worry anyone who cared about him.
As his wife of 51 years says, he was simply the best.
Dean is survived by his wife, Judy Jones Ward; three daughters, Melanie Lowrance and husband Chris of Gastonia, Renee Ward of Sugar Grove, and Sarah Braswell and husband Frankie of Fairview; ten grandchildren, Haley, Alex, Adam, Madelyn, Ethan, Stacie, Hazel, Taylor, Hannah and Finley; one sister, Barbara West and husband Max of Blowing Rock; one brother, Harold Ward and wife Paulette of Elk Park; a number of nieces and nephews, and a special niece, Robin Greene.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Stacy and Marie Ward; and one brother, Charles Ward.
Funeral services for Dean Ward will be conducted at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, 2018 at the Willow Valley Baptist Church. Officiating will be the Rev. Ray Greene. Graveside services will be private with Military Honors Provided by American Legion Post 130.
The family will receive friends Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Willow Valley Baptist Church prior to the service.
Flowers are accepted or memorials may be made to the American Red Cross, 331 Queen Street, Boone NC 28607 or to Samaritan’s Purse, PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607.
Online condolences may be shared with the Ward family at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.
Austin & Barnes Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the Ward family.