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Francis E. Ward

Francis E. Ward

RALEIGH, N.C.—Mr. Francis Elgin Ward, 90, of Raleigh, N.C., passed away on June 11, 2020.

He was born on February 3, 1930, to the late Hilda Francis Hutchings Ward and William Friss Ward. As a boy and young man, Francis was a softshell crabber and a fisherman on a menhaden boat. He attended Kilmarnock High School, graduating in 1947, and received a Bachelor of Science in social sciences from The College of William and Mary in June 1958.

Francis led a varied and interesting life. Prior to attending William and Mary, he drove a truck delivering oysters for Webb Oyster Company. He then joined the U.S. Army and was sent to Japan as part of the Occupations Forces after World War II. Then while serving in the U.S. Army from 1948 to 1952, he was stationed in Korea where he was wounded in combat during the Korean War. After Korea, he served in the U.S. Reserves of the Air Force from 1953 to 1956, attended college, and taught at Kilmarnock High School for two years.

He then served as an ABC Board enforcement officer in Virginia from 1958 to 1962. He worked as a salesman for Zimco Electric in Odessa, Texas, from 1962 to 1966. He then joined Eaton Corporation (Cutler Hammer) as a salesman in 1966 in Norfolk. After a 27-year career, Francis retired from Eaton Corporation in Raleigh, N.C., as director of sales for the southeastern states. Following retirement, Francis volunteered as a riverboat captain for “Roaming on the Scuppernong” operated by Partnership for the Sound and he ran for mayor of Columbia, N.C., in 2007. 

After living and raising his family in Chesapeake from 1966 to 1979, then in Raleigh from 1979 to 2004, Francis retired in 1993 and then subsequently moved to Columbia, (Helen’s hometown) in 2004. He resided in Columbia until he moved back to Raleigh in 2016 to be closer to family and be a part of the Magnolia Glen, and then Brighton Garden’s communities. Over the last few years, his family enjoyed having Francis close by to join in on many family gatherings, holidays and special occasions.

In addition to his work life, he was involved in many organizations and was the recipient of multiple honors and awards. He was Master Mason – Doric Lodge No. 44 – Norfolk (1971); Master of the Lodge – Providence Lodge No. 678 – Columbia; member of the Arman Shriners – Legion of Honor Unit – Cary, N.C.; Order of the Eastern Star – Edith Chapter #160 Cary and Columbia Chapter #281 Columbia, District Deputy Grand Patron of The Second District, 2003; American Legion, Columbia; and a member of Columbia Missionary Baptist Church and Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Columbia.

Among military honors, he received the CIB Good Conduct Medal, the Occupational Medal (Japan) and the Korean Service Medal. He graduated Leadership School at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., for Infantry to Combat Leadership and received an Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Army in 1952 with rank of sergeant first class.

Francis enjoyed a lifelong love of the water. He shared this love with his children early in life through many hours of boating and fishing. Later in life, his children cherished the time to take their Dad fishing and allow “Grandpa” the opportunity to teach the grandchildren to fish and share his love of the water. These are special memories that the family will cherish forever.

He was known by a variety of names to the many people in his life. Most knew him as Francis, others as Elgin and Ward. His parents called him Sonny, Brother to his sisters, and Buddy to his brother. To his family he was Dad, Grandpa and Great Papa. And for everyone, he had the same warm smile and positive outlook on life. 

Francis was a teacher at heart, and had a lifelong love of learning. He was an Army drill instructor, taught high school history, conducted training classes for work, served as a Sunday school teacher at church, taught his children to love and honor God, their family and country, and he always had a “don’t you know” story to share with his grandchildren. 

Francis was a great example of a servant leader throughout his life. He served and blossomed wherever he was planted, whatever the circumstances. He served his God, his country, his family, his church, work, friends and communities, all with a glad heart, never seeking any recognition.

Francis was wed to Lura Elizabeth Weiland in 1950 (divorced); Diane Parks in 1958 (preceded in death in 1973); Helen Brickhouse Yerby in 1974 (preceded in death in 2008, to whom he was happily married for over 33 years); and a companionship with Vida Clause for over 10 years beginning in 2009. 

Throughout the years, Francis was blessed with six children, 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and sister, June Mason.

His life will forever be remembered by his family: children, John (Joy) Ward of Raleigh, Ricky (Teresa) Ward of Columbia, S.C., Fran (Lei Ann) Ward of Orem, Utah, Lura Carey of Orem, Chris (Ellen) Yerby of Hillsborough, N.C., and Karen Yerby of Raleigh; grandchildren, Kayla Ward (Josh) Steedly of Raleigh, Sarah Ward of Raleigh, Cameron Ward of Columbia, S.C., Jackson Ward of Columbia, S.C., Lauren Bolick of Hillsborough, Chad (Sunni Dutton) Yerby of Graham, N.C., Elizabeth Ward Richardson of Lindon, Utah, Joseph (Kara Roylance) Ward of Lehi, Utah, Rachael Ward of Salt Lake City, Utah, Benjamin (Lisa Olsen) Ward of Spanish Fork, Utah, Samuel (Carolyn Kay) Ward of Glendale, Ariz.; Shane Carey of Chandler, Ariz., and Kathlean Wolf of Madison, Wis.; and siblings, William “Billy” Ward and Vera May Winegar.

A brief viewing, visitation and funeral was held June 16 at Renaissance Funeral Home, 7615 Six Forks Road, Raleigh. Condolences may be forwarded to The service was live streamed for those who could not attend or preferred not to attend in person due to COVID-19,

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children at, Wounded Warrior Project at> (he was a wounded Korean War Veteran), or the Alzheimer’s Association at

A graveside service was held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, at Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church, 3712 Weems Road, Weems, VA 22576,

Arrangements in Virginia were handled by Currie Funeral Home and Crematory, Kilmarnock.

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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