Philip Richard Ward, age 86, of Alexandria, Virginia, passed away at Alexandria Hospital on Sunday, September 23, 2018 from complications of pneumonia.
Born on January 13, 1932 in East Syracuse, New York, Philip was the youngest son of Patrick William Ward and Kathryn Lennon Ward of East Syracuse, New York. A selfless, loyal and caring soul, he dedicated his life to his family, country, and community.
Philip married Shirley Jeanne Backenstross, on May 5, 1951, at St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church in East Syracuse, New York. With Shirley, he raised seven children while serving over 30 years in the military, including a tour in Vietnam during the war.
He was preceded in death by his parents; nine of his siblings -- John William Ward (September 10, 1983), Michael James Ward (April 25, 1959), Rosella Louise Lauren (March 9, 1967), Thomas Joseph Ward (October 14, 1990), Sister M. Patrice Ward, OSF (baptized Mary Alice Ward) (July 17, 2014), Robert Vincent Ward (June 26, 2004), Edward Patrick Ward (April 30, 1928), George Bernard Ward (June 8, 1987), Daniel Duane Ward (December 12, 1988); and his youngest son, Timothy Patrick (June 13, 2009).
He is survived by Shirley, his wife of 67 years and 6 children: Joyce (Dave) Lapham, Steven Ward (Cecilia Lutz), Sharon (Kevin) Dooley, Amy (Charles) Bailey, Mary Ward (Yoshi Murata) and Julie Ward (John Muller). He is also survived by his sisters, Sister M. Stephanie Ward, OSF (baptized Betty Ann Ward) and Kathryn Durgey; his daughter-in-law, Jennifer Ward; 12 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren.
Philip graduated from East Syracuse-Minoa Junior Senior High in 1948 together with his brothers Dan and George. He immediately enlisted in the New York Army National Guard and took a job as a shipping clerk at Syracuse Office Furniture Corp. In October 1955 he became a full time employee with the New York Army National Guard's 249th Field Artillery Battalion. On January 27, 1962, he was called to active duty with the United States Army, in the Armor branch and assigned to the 2nd Medium Tank Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division in Fort Hood, Texas. He remained on active duty serving his country a total of 33 years in Germany, Vietnam, and ten other locations throughout the United States, rising to the rank of Colonel before retiring on December 31, 1980.
He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration (with a concentration in accounting) from St. Mary's College, in Leavenworth, Kansas, completing the course work on a part time basis while he was on active duty.
After leaving the military he returned with his family to the Syracuse, NY area, where he continued to serve, but in different ways. His retirement years were marked by giving to others: traveling to Homestead Air Force Base in the wake of Hurricane Andrew as a volunteer relief worker for the Salvation Army; logging over 10,000 miles as volunteer driver for the Disabled American Veterans transporting veterans to and from medical appointments. During retirement, Philip and Shirley also spent several years in Florida close to friends (and the ocean) as well as in Virginia close to family.
He used his accounting background to help others, becoming the regional coordinator for the AARP Foundation Tax Assistance Program, supervising a dozen volunteer tax counselors providing free tax preparation services to those who could not afford to pay. He also volunteered as the bookkeeper for his local parish St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church, "keeping them in the black and out of the red. . . "
Philip counted his most important job in retirement to be providing for the continuing care and comfort of his wife Shirley, who faced multiple health challenges in their last years together, even as his own health declined from the onset of dementia.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you donate to the Alzheimer's Association, https://www.alz.org, or the Disabled American Veterans, https://secure.dav.org.
A Visitation will be held at Everly Wheatley Funeral Home on October 1, 2018, from 4pm to 8pm. A funeral Mass will be held at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church on October 2, 2018 at 10:30am, followed by a Reception at Fort Myer Patton Hall Officers Club, Fort Myer, Va. Inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery will be held at a later date.
Additional details can be found on the 'Service Details' tab above.
P.O. Box 96011, Washington DC 20090-6011
Disabled American Veterans’ Charitable Service Trust