Norris “Gene” Ward, a Lake High School science teacher who coached the hockey team for years after he retired from the classroom, died Saturday in Mercy St. Charles Hospital in Oregon. He was 87.
Mr. Ward of Walbridge was in ill health the last year, his daughter Terrie said, with congestive heart failure and — most recently — kidney and liver failure.
He retired in 1986 from Lake, where for 31 years he taught chemistry and physics. He coached hockey through the 1997-1998 season and stopped only because his cardiologist told him to stop skating with the team, his daughter said.
By then, he was the dean of Toledo-area high school hockey coaches. He was at the helm when the Lake team started in 1971-1972, the second season of organized high school hockey in the Toledo area. He was a former Lake High head football and track coach. When he coached cross country, he ran with the team. He also coached junior high basketball.
“He worked tirelessly as a coach in any sport,” said Dave Shaffer, Lake athletic director, who in 1980 was a student in Mr. Ward’s chemistry class. “He was a great man, one of our best.”
Mr. Ward was in the Lake Hall of Fame and was a 1996 recipient of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Sportsmanship, Ethics, and Integrity Award.
He tailored his approach to the individual player, his daughter said.
In the classroom, he could joke and be playful as he made the subject interesting, Mr. Shaffer recalled.
He asked his family to bring his chemistry, physics, and math texts to the funeral home, his daughter said. “Sports was fun, but education was important,” his daughter said.
He was born May 25, 1927, in Mount Blanchard, Ohio, to Nina and Farel Ward. He was a graduate of Mount Blanchard High School and Bowling Green State University. He began his teaching and coaching career at Ruggles-Troy High School in Nova, Ohio, and at Beaverdam (Ohio) High School.
He and the former Doris Hawley married in March, 1950. She died in October, 2007.
Surviving are his daughters Terrie Deitemyer and Sandra Ward; brothers, Dell and Loris; sisters, Martha Benjamin, Nellie Branan, and Janet Courtney, and three grandchildren.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. today in Lakewood Church of the Brethren, Millbury, where visitation is to begin at 10 a.m. Arrangements are by the Marsh Funeral Home, Luckey.
The family suggests tributes to the Mercy St. Charles Heart Failure Clinic; Lakewood Church of the Brethren, or the Gene Ward Scholarship Fund at Lake High.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.