Emit Kenneth “Kenny” Ward, age 78, son of William Emit “Hick” and Pauline Beatrice (Sillyman) Ward, was born August 1, 1930, in Kansas City, Kansas. He died January 11, 2009, at St. John’s Medical Center, Springfield, Mo.
Kenny married Marie Edith Pinkston on October 1, 1949, in the First Baptist Church, Houston, Mo.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one sister, Thelma Fern; and one grandson, Kris Ward.
He is survived by his wife, Edith of the home; three sons, Larry Ward and wife Dawn of Houston, Mo., Jeff Ward of Ellis Prairie, Mo., and Joe Ward and wife Terisa of Houston, Mo.; one daughter, Charlotte Neal and husband Lexey of Success, Mo.; one brother, Darrell Ward and wife Lois of Lee Summitt, Mo.; an aunt, Gladys Ward of Licking, Mo.; seven grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, other relatives and a host of friends made throughout the years.
Kenny worked at various jobs around Houston as a teenager, dropping out of high school four months into his freshman year. In 1949, he went to work at International Shoe factory as a side-laster. In January of 1951, he began a 33-year career with the Missouri State Highway Department at Houston.
His job was interrupted on January 2, 1952, by the Korean War, at which time he entered the U.S. Navy until December 28, 1955, when he was honorably discharged as a second class Petty Officer. He served aboard the USS Frank E. Evans, a destroyer, and the AJAX a machine ship, as “Oil King” in the engine room.
On his return home he resumed his career with the Highway Department with its special crew as a drag-line and dozer operator until January 1960, when the new maintenance building at Success opened and he started as crew leader. He received his G.E.D. in 1968 and was promoted to shed foreman in 1969. He held that position until his retirement December 1, 1987. He started Ward Dump Trucking after his retirement and it is still in operation today.
Kenny was a member of VFW and American Legion. He was a 52 year member of Texas Lodge #177 AF & AM.
His greatest “material” love was Country Music, learning to play fiddle, guitar and mandolin beginning at age 12. He was in his first organized band aboard the Evans in the Navy playing shows along the California Coast, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines and various other Island locales in the Pacific.
In 1968, he joined the “Lonesome Drifters” playing fiddle doing a radio show every Saturday morning on Houston Radio into the early 70’s. He formed his most well known band, “Kenny Ward and the Wardens” in 1975 playing local shows and radio through out the late 70’s and early 80’s. He had “The Ward Family Band” in the late 80’s, “The Slupe Creek Band” in the early 90’s, and played lead guitar for “The Crow Creek Band” in the late 90’s. He played in “The Sink Hole Band” from 2003 until his death.
In the late 90’s, he enjoyed the opportunity of playing lead guitar for Country legend Jean Shepard for one show and Jack Leonard, former Bass Guitarist for Ernest Tubb.
His guitar and music will be greatly missed.
Services were 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, at the First Christian Church. Pastor Gene Postlewait and Eugene Earp officiated. Burial was in the Oakland Cemetery under the direction of Evans Funeral Home.
Family requests in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Gideons or Oakland Cemetery.
Online condolences may be made at www.evansfh.com.