In Memoriam: Sherman Carl Ward, Jr. (1921-2014)

by Jacob Coakley

Sherman Carl Ward, Jr. (1921-2014)Sherman C. Ward, Jr., respected local artist and community theatre leader, died at the age of 92 on October 1, 2014 after having been in failing health for several months. Sherman was working on his latest artwork and a family history at his home in Alexandria Bay, NY, when he passed. Born in Lorain, Ohio, on November 14, 1921, the son of the late Dr. S. Carl Ward and Ruby Kathleen Warner Ward, he graduated from Oglethorpe University in 1946 and received his Master of Science degree from Syracuse University in 1948. He is survived by the former Ann Laura Bodie, whom he married in 1949. Sherman had been a leader in community theatre for more than 50 years, during which time he founded The Musicrafters of Camden County and was well known as a skillful and creative director. With the Musicrafters, he directed, his wife stage managed, his three children all acted in the shows, and everyone built the sets. Community theatre for Sherman was an adventure for the whole family. He also served as president of the New Jersey Theatre League as well as several community theatre groups. He was a member of the Board of the American Association of Community Theatres (AACT), a Regional Representative of AACT Region II, Treasurer of the Eastern States Theatre Association (Region II), and a roving adjudicator for the Theatre Association of New York (TANYS). One of the plays he directed was a finalist in AACT’s national competition and went on to represent the United States at the International Community Theatre Festival in Nova Scotia. In 2004, he was Playwright in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, and in 2005, he was honored by AACT with the Robert E. Gard Superior Volunteer Award and in 2011, he was inducted as an AACT Fellow. In 2008, TANYS established an annual award in his name to honor a volunteer over the age of 65 who has participated in community theatre for over 25 years.

Born in Lorain, Ohio, on November 14, 1921, the son of the late Dr. S. Carl Ward and Ruby Kathleen Warner Ward, he graduated from Oglethorpe University in 1946 and received his Master of Science degree from Syracuse University in 1948. He is survived by the former Ann Laura Bodie, whom he married in 1949. They had been married for 65 years, a feat Sherman always credited to Ann’s good sense of humor.

In 1980, Sherman was retired from the Campbell Soup Company in Camden, New Jersey, where he was Manager of Product Research and Development, Swanson Frozen Foods subsidiary. He began his career as a bacteriologist with the National Canners Association in Washington, DC, and then with Stokely Van Camp in Indianapolis, Indiana. Later he was the Technical Director for C. A. Swanson and Sons Co. of Omaha, Nebraska. Working in the food industry helped Sherman develop a very discerning palate. Stories of trips he and his wife took were always filled with tales of delicious meals. Of all foods, however, it was pie he loved best, having grown up in an era when his mother baked a pie for the family every day.

A highly creative man, Sherman actively pursued a career in painting and sculpting since 1980, creating more than 400 paintings, 100 sculptures, jewelry pieces, and other artworks. For many years he was a student at the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia and the oldest perpetual freshman at Rowan University in New Jersey. His paintings have been included in many local shows in the Thousand Islands region, New Jersey, and New York City, in various private collections, and can be seen online at www.shermanwardart.com. In 2004, he was honored as featured artist of the year at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. Sherman was one of the founders

of the Dingman Point River Artists Open Studio Tour, which has had its annual show for the past 19 years. Visitors to the show always enjoyed hearing him tell the many stories behind his paintings and discussing art in general.

Sherman’s artistic creativity extended to architecture as well. He drew 84 different plans and made several models for his home on the St. Lawrence in the two years prior to its construction in 2006.

Sherman had been a leader in community theatre for more than 50 years, during which time he founded The Musicrafters of Camden County and was well known as a skillful and creative director. With the Musicrafters, he directed, his wife stage managed, his three children all acted in the shows, and everyone built the sets. Community theatre for Sherman was an adventure for the whole family. He also served as president of the New Jersey Theatre League as well as several community theatre groups. He was a member of the Board of the American Association of Community Theatres (AACT), a Regional Representative of AACT Region II, Treasurer of the Eastern States Theatre Association (Region II), and a roving adjudicator for the Theatre Association of New York (TANYS). One of the plays he directed was a finalist in AACT’s national competition and went on to represent the United States at the International Community Theatre Festival in Nova Scotia. In 2004, he was Playwright in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, and in 2005, he was honored by AACT with the Robert E. Gard Superior Volunteer Award and in 2011, he was inducted as an AACT Fellow. In 2008, TANYS established an annual award in his name to honor a volunteer over the age of 65 who has participated in community theatre for over 25 years.

Sherman also loved the game of golf and grew up caddying as a summer job in his youth. He was a favorite of many of the women golfers as he would occasionally take the difficult shot for them. On the morning of his wedding, he and his best man, one of his brothers, played a round of golf, which luckily his fiancée did not learn of until after the wedding. He and his wife played often, as recently as in his 91st year (but then only 9 holes).

One of the qualities that his friends and family most enjoyed was Sherman’s great sense of humor, which he maintained to the end. When his children were young, many mornings Sherman would go out to the backyard with an empty cup to milk Hortense, the invisible cow, and return with a full cup of milk for his daughters’ cereal, much to their amazement and delight.

Sherman’s grandparents and great-grandparents lived in Alexandria Bay, NY, and as a child, he loved coming to the River every summer. He and his friends were known to have played hide and seek in Boldt’s Castle in the 1930s. Sherman has spent some or all of the last 87 years enjoying the St. Lawrence River.

Sherman was always active and involved in life. He lived it to the fullest and positively influenced many people along the way.

Sherman’s three brothers, Donald, Howard, and Robert, predeceased him. In addition to his wife Ann, he is survived by his three children: Dr. Deborah Ward Roney of Huntingdon, PA; Andrea Ward Smith of Old Forge, NY; and Sherman Carl ‘Buzz’ Ward III of Cincinnati, OH and Alexandria Bay, NY. He is also survived by 5 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, his stepsister, RaeDene Dales, and several nieces and nephews.

A retrospective of his art will be held in the Macsherry Library, Alexandria Bay, NY, at a date to be announced.

Funeral arrangements will be private. Contributions in his name can be made to the Sherman and Ann Ward Scholarship for Sculpture at Rowan University. Checks should be made payable to the Rowan University Foundation and sent to the Foundation at Shpeen Hall, 2nd Floor, 40 N. Academy Street, Glassboro, NJ 08028. Please note the scholarship on the check’s memo line. Or contributions can be made to Hospice Foundation of Jefferson County, Inc. and sent to the Foundation at 1398 Gotham Street, Watertown, NY 13601.