BY ADA WARD-TIMMONS
ST. PETERSBURG – Thurs., May 1, marked the 80th birthday of James Ward Sr., and his family commemorated this milestone with a celebration at Sylvia’s Restaurant in the historic Manhattan Casino’s atrium Fri., May 2.
Attendees at this momentous event spanned four generations. Many gave tribute to his life by expressing verbally and in a commemorative photo journal some of the invaluable ways their lives have been affected by his legacy.
View the Photo Gallery
Originally from Burke County, Ga., Ward migrated to St. Petersburg as a young man with a wife and infant child. He immediately put his drive and tenacity as a hard-working farmer from Georgia into action to support his young family by learning many trades through on-the-job training he received in various vocations as well as some self-taught skills including laying cement, concrete construction, lawn care, welding, and auto repair.
Soon Ward’s entrepreneurial spirit took over and put all the skills and training to use in formulating several personal businesses in the St. Petersburg community, including owning a full service BP Service Station with an auto repair garage, a lawn care service and landscaping business and a construction company known then as Ward & Sons. Now it is operated by several of his sons, of which one is a general contractor, and is now called Ward Construction.
Another of his sons extended the training he received from his father by enrolling in Pinellas Technical Education Center in St. Petersburg and becoming a certified diesel mechanic, which eventually led to the development of a local mechanic service that is a viable part of south St. Petersburg called Ward’s Auto & Truck Repair.
Ward instilled in all of his children a strong work ethic that sustains them and their families through noble professions such as teaching and nursing. Despite many trials and tribulations, he instilled strong Christian values in his children and stepchildren. They all attend church with faithful service to God and have raised their children to honor and love Him.
Three of his sons are minsters of the gospel: One has pastored at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church for 26 years, another serves as an associate minister there and the other resides and serves in South Carolina. Ward served as a deacon at Macedonia Freewill Baptist Church for many years before joining First Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, where he has served as a deacon for over 20 years where Rev. Wallace Elliott is pastor.
James Ward Sr. and his wife, Lucie, continue to provide faithful service as members of the congregation.
Lessons of the father
As I think about the great lessons fathers teach sons, I must say the greatest lesson you have taught me as a son is the importance of hard work that a man must be willing to do in order to take care of and provide for his family. Also, your love as a father for your children has always been a great love. Thanks for being a great dad. — Rev. Robert Ward
Traits that make my dad great
- Let me learn through my mistakes
- Remains open minded
- Taught me to appreciate life
- Understood I would not be just like you
- You were there when I needed you
- You gave me a great role model
- You always challenged me to be my best