Thursday, August 1, 2019
11:00 AM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
There will be a luncheon immediately following the funeral service. All are invited to attend.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Perhaps it was her honest dedication in everything she put her mind to, yet in all ways, Gwendolyn Ward paved the way as a woman most certainly ahead of her time. A driving force and a straight shooter through and through, she was unflinching in her opinion for everything she believed in. A woman of substance and with a grace all her own, Gwendolyn will be fondly remembered for these things and so much more.
Gwendolyn’s story began during a time of economic prosperity as industry and the need for consumer goods rose. While jazz dominated the music sector, men in their pan hats strolled along with swank and swagger and were quite a match for the belles of the infamous Roaring Twenties, the flapper. At the same time, Ellis Island closed its doors as an immigration entry point, leaving behind numerous memories of promises for better tomorrows. This was especially true in the lives of Anson Alvin Lyon and Jessica Mae “Betty” (Trombley) Lyon, a young couple who met while he worked as a jazz musician and she as a dance instructor. Yet on December 8, 1924, life was forever changed for the young couple when they welcomed the birth of their little girl whom they lovingly named, Gwendolyn Treasure.
Born in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Gwendolyn’s father went on to become a traveling salesman while her mother worked as a tailor and furrier. Raised an only child, as a young girl Gwendolyn experienced the joys of her youth bobsledding and ice skating during the months of winter. The summer months were often spent enjoying nearby beaches, camping at Grand Haven and festive times spent with her father’s side of the family. When she was nine years old Gwendolyn was hit by a car at Alpine and 7th Streets. Although it could have been far worse, her injuries did require a lengthy hospital stay. The hardships during the Great Depression affected everyone from coast to coast and Gwendolyn’s family was no exception, but with perseverance they made it through these trying times.
Having attended the local schools, Gwendolyn played the trumpet in her high school marching band. She excelled in her studies and even served as an officer of the honor society. She attended Big Rapids High School for a time and graduated from Union High School at the height of World War II.
Gwendolyn met the love of her life, Theodore “Ted” William Ward through a mutual friend. Even though Ted knew after three days that Gwendolyn was the one for him, it took a little longer to convince Gwendolyn, but not too much longer. She eventually married her sweetheart and for the next 39 years they shared all that life had to offer. The newlyweds settled in Grand Rapids where Gwendolyn went on to further her education. Earning her Bachelors degree from Aquinas College, she completed her Masters degree in Special Education from Michigan State University, commuting each day from Grand Rapids.
It was during this time in Gwendolyn’s life when she became the mother of two fine children, Jacquelyn and Anson. While she made a wonderful home for Ted and the kids, Gwendolyn spent her teaching years with Grand Rapids Public Schools, having taught mainly at Harrison Park and Union High School throughout the majority of her career. Gwendolyn was very proud to teach special education and was extremely passionate about giving all students equal opportunities and experiences, many of which included but were not limited to teaching proper conduct in restaurants, balancing a checkbook, reading the sports page, clipping and using coupons, etc. of which her practical sense shown bright. She was also proud to be involved with Special Olympics as a leader and advocate.
It also brought Gwendolyn great joy to serve as a volunteer. At one point she served as president of volunteers at Blodgett Hospital and was well recognized for her level of service in that capacity. She was also quite involved with the Women’s City Club where she was an officer and board member. Gwendolyn loved the social aspect of gatherings and always looked forward to weekly lunches with the ladies. In the early 1940’s, Gwendolyn began attending and became a faithful member of Wallin Congregational Church where she shared her time and talents.
In her free time, Gwendolyn enjoyed her love of reading and often multiple books at a time. She enjoyed knitting and crocheting, and loved her collection of Royal Doulton figurines. She also loved ballroom dancing, and of course shopping, especially for shoes. Gwendolyn always had a pot of coffee brewing whether for herself or at the ready for a welcome visitor. Although she was quite practical in nature, Gwendolyn gave the most classic dinner parties with her well dressed table settings.
For their 25th wedding anniversary, Gwendolyn and her beloved Ted celebrated by renewing their vows. A sight always to be remembered was Gwendolyn wearing her wedding dress, and with not one alteration. Sadly, her husband passed away unexpectedly in his sleep in 1985. Even though it was a most difficult time for Gwendolyn, she carried on in life with nothing less than her often stubborn and highly opinionated yet ever dedicated and honest demeanor.
Gwendolyn would want to be remembered for never wavering in her opinions, her work, or the causes of which she felt so strong. She was most proud of her work with special needs kids and as an early advocate for equal treatment, respect and belief in them.
With ways all her own, there was only one Gwendolyn Ward. Always dedicated and devoted to her cause, her commitment to the many children whose lives she touched was unmatched. Gwendolyn was classic in every sense of the word which was reflected in the way she carried herself by way of her social nature and perseverance through any obstacle that came her way. She stood firm and strong for what she believed and in so doing, her life was enriched in countless ways.
Gwendolyn T. Ward, age 94, of Grand Rapids died quietly with family at her side July 26, 2019, at Yorkshire Manor. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her husband, Theodore “Ted” W. Ward. Surviving are her two children: Jacquelyn Sathe and her husband, Avinash of Lenoir City, TN; son, Anson William Ward of Jenison; three grandchildren: Theodore Ward, F. Douglas Mileski and his wife Pia, both of Grand Rapids, Lynnette R. Mileski of Key West, FL; three great-grandchildren, Alex Mileski, Maya Mileski and Erik Mileski. A celebration of life service will be held at 11 AM Thursday, August 1, 2019 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with Gwendolyn’s family Wednesday, 4-7 PM and beginning at 10 AM Thursday prior to the service, with a luncheon immediately following. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park. Those who wish may make gifts in memory of Gwendolyn to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. To read more of her life story or to leave a memory or condolence, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.