A life of selfless service and acclaim came to an end last weekend. Larry Ward, 78, of Payson, who made numerous charitable organizations and disaster relief his life's work, died Oct. 25, 2003.
Mr. Ward came to Payson in 1991 to build a base for one of his many charitable works.
"We did not have room for it where either of us lived in California," his widow, June said. "His son said he knew of the perfect place and it was Payson."
Over the years, he worked with World Vision, helping build it into one of the world's largest Christian relief organizations. He started the Food For the Hungry International ministry in 1970 and in the 1990s started Viet/Aid. He also founded World/Aid and was co-founder of Protestant Media Foundation.
While he traveled the world through his ministry work, he was drawn to service in Vietnam, making 125 trips there since 1958. He helped evacuate people from Saigon before its fall in the Vietnam War and served on the Mercy Ship to rescue boat people.
His last relief efforts were in Istanbul, Turkey in 1999, following a devastating earthquake. He traveled there with his wife, and Randy Roberson, also of Payson.
"He traveled until his illness made it impossible," Mrs. Ward said.
Her fondest memory of her husband is the spirit with which he lived his last months.
"He went into the hospital in Phoenix in February and was there for two weeks," Mrs. Ward said. "From then until he died he was never out of bed, except to go to the hospital. But he never grumbled. He never complained. He always had a smile for visitors. It was a hard time for us, but I feel proud. It was such an honor to take care of him in his last months."
She said she was very appreciative of the efforts on her husband's behalf by RTA Hospice and Dr. Judy Hunt.
"They allowed him to stay home instead of going into a care center," Mrs. Ward said.
His life and work was chronicled in a book published by Tyndale House. "The family will have copies of the book available for guests at the memorial service," daughter Sheri Moy said.
He was born Dec. 14, 1924 to Whitney and Orleva Ward of Sidney, N.Y.
He graduated from Norwich, N.Y. High School in 1942. He earned master of arts and doctorate degrees from Columbia Pacific University and was awarded three honorary doctoral degrees from Azusa Pacific University, Warner Southern College and Yonsei University of Seoul, South Korea.
Mr. Ward also worked as managing editor of Christian Life and Christianity Today magazines and was executive secretary of the Evangelical Press Association and director of its EP News Service.
He is survived by his wife, June of Payson, whom he married Sept. 1, 2002; son, Kevin (Penni) of Mesa; daughter, Sheri (Bill) Moy of Scottsdale; stepchildren, David (Laurie) Pereira of Antioch, Calif., Becky (Billy) Mason of Melbourne, Fla. and Suzanne Pereira of San Ramon, Calif.; 11 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; brother, Whitney (Pauline) Ward of Nunda, N.Y.; sister, Dottie Brown of Klamath Falls, Ore.; and stepbrother, Kermit (Christie) Hocutt of Washington, Ga.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Lorraine, after 52 years of marriage.
A memorial celebration service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18 at the Mountain Bible Church of Payson. Later, Mr. Ward's ashes will be scattered over the central highlands of Vietnam.
Donations can be made to the Larry Ward Memorial Fund, c/o Ponderosa Baptist Church, 1107 N. Beeline Highway, Payson, AZ 85541.