Gary J. Ward, age 61, cherished father, Gpa, and friend, found his eternal peace on December 8, 2020 after a 17 year struggle with alcoholism and depression. Undeniably, Gary loved his family more than life itself and, when at his best, was the brightest light in every room. Always the entertainer, he never missed an opportunity to make someone laugh or belt out a song, rap, or nonsensical phrase of his own creation! Above all, Gary was beyond proud of his daughters and grandchildren and their personal successess, to which he endlessly credited his ex-wife but one true love, Jerilynn Ward, for her strength, resilience, and influence.
Born on January 31, 1959 to James and Dolores (Hensen) Ward in Madison, WI, Gary spent his adolescence class clowning around town with his close cousins, John Ward and Tom Hensen, dreaming of being a drummer, and making friends everywhere he went. He attended James Madison Memorial High School and followed in his father's footsteps as a steamfitter shortly after. Gary stepped out of his comfort zone in the late 80s pursuing a long, successful career in the field of Nuclear Security in Homestead, Florida, where he and his family lost almost everything after a direct hit by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Through thick and thin, Gary made it clear to all who knew him that the Packers, Badgers, and Brewers were #1 in sports no matter where he called home, and sure enough the Badger State beckoned him back in 1999. In his later years after returning to Madison, WI, Gary was an accomplished loupe assembler at Orascoptic, a pioneer and international supplier in the medical vision industry, that was in his corner until the very end.
Gary is forever loved and survived by his daughters, Jenna (Brian) Dubé and Tammie Ward, granddaughter Siri, grandson Jasper, his father James Ward, sister Kathy (Bill) Paulson, brother Jeff (special friend, Kim Tran) Ward, two nephews, one niece, and countless other cousins, friends, and supporters. He was preceded in death and greeted with loving arms by his mother, Dolores "Dee" Ward, both sets of paternal and maternal grandparents, his uncles Pat Ward, Tom Ward, and Donald Hensen, cousin Kristy Hensen, and a parade of beloved pets.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Gary's name to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. If you or someone you love is in need of resources, call SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).