Willie Ray Ward died peacefully surrounded by loved ones on September 29, 2022. Private family services will be held at a later date.
Willie was the oldest of 12 children to parents Robert Wiliam Ward and Annie Irene Ward. He was born on February 24, 1943 Comanche, Oklahoma. Willie’s nickname was “Sun” during his growing up years because of his piercing blue eyes. He was of the driving generation who earned their drivers license at 14 years old and he was driving a truck for the Wagoner Ranch at 16 years old.
He graduated from Lockett High School in 1961 and continued working for the Wagoner Ranch for five years. He then worked for several companies including Schlitz Brewery, United Van Lines and Crown Quality. He drove for OK Concrete in Childress and retired from truck driving in 2012.
During this time, Willie continued his love to travel and started a new venture and became an apartment and motel manager in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Modesto, California. Willie always loved California and spoke fondly of his time there.
Willie’s spirit of wanderlust took him on many road trips starting in high school. Camping and fishing became highlights of these trips. He enjoyed fishing throughout his lifetime and spent many hours during his last years at Scott Lake in Childress. When asked what he caught he would smile and say “a few perch.” The catch was not Willie’s reason to fish. He also loved to read and spent relaxing time with many Louis L’Amour westerns. He also liked gambling and could be found at a slot machine in Oklahoma. Poker with his daddy and brothers during his young adult years was always a fun and competitive time. With his sons, he loved watching football on a Sunday afternoon.
Willie was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. He started lung cancer treatment and after going through severe nausea and sickness, he made the heroic decision to stop treatment. As he explained to us, “I can take the pain of cancer but I do not have to take the pain of treatment.” We admire this personal declaration and are proud of his stance and how he lived his final five years. Cancer and treatment did not define Willie, but his courage did. He faced each day with pain but continued his journey.
Willie is survived by his three children, Timothy Wade, Tony Ray and Tina Marie; others left to remember Willie with love are his five brothers, Robert Glen Ward, David Herry Ward, William Daniel Ward, William Daniel Ward, Mark Todd Ward and Robbie Scott Ward; his four sisters, Becky Ann Fields, Debbie Kay Darland, Penny Gay Acker and Bonnie Sue Kinder; and the mother of his children, Deanna Knotts Ward.
Willie’s neighbors and friends have told us he was a great neighbor, a good friend and a strong and hard worker. Willie believed in a strong work ethic but he also believed in enjoying life.
We are proud to be a part of his legacy and will cherish our memories of Willie Ray Ward.