Eight Bells: Ron Ward
Published on September 4th, 2017
by Sandy Grosvenor, with help from many others
It is with a heavy heart I report that Annapolis Yacht Club Past Commodore Ron Ward, at age 96 years, passed away on Wednesday, August 30. For almost all of us who knew Ron, he was both a mentor and an outstanding role model in race management, judging, umpiring, sailing, and life.
I have often said over the years that I want to grow old like Ron. What I mean by that is how Ron never seemed to stop growing, learning, and striving to get better. He continued to help our sport evolve, and he evolved with it.
He took relative youngsters, like me and many others, under his wing- encouraged us to be better race officers, bucked us up when we messed up, and sparkled with pride when we succeeded. If we came up with some great new idea, he would either support it or he might explain (with humor) how he had tried that same idea some decades before to disastrous result.
As Robin Wallace said: “One learned from him so readily without the feeling that he was a formal teacher holding forth on a particular topic. These days so many people have huge egos that need to be satisfied and publicly acknowledged that it does one good to remember the warm and friendly way that I will always remember Ron.”
He lived his life to a high standard, but stayed modest about his own accomplishments. Those accomplishments were many. As an International Judge and Umpire, he officiated in major sailing events worldwide including four America’s Cup Race Committees, and longtime chairman of the Annapolis Yacht Club race committee.
He was Past Commodore of the Annapolis Yacht Club, Potapskut Sailing Association, Pasadena Sailing Association, and President of Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Associations. He contributed to the Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) helping to bring the freedom of sailing to persons with disabilities, recovering warriors and youth in at-risk communities.
He was a member of US Sailing for over 50 years, including 12 years of service on the US Sailing’s Judges Committee (including three as chair), many years on the US Racing Rules Committee, 25 years of service as a US Sailing Senior Judge, Chairman of the US Sailing Umpires Committee, and much more. In 2005, he was the inaugural recipient of US Sailing’s Harman Hawkins award, it’s most prestigious award for recognizing lifetime contributions in race management.
Professionally he was a research engineer for the U.S. Navy as an expert on sub propulsion system seals, retiring in 1977 as a department head at the Navy Ship R&D Center in Annapolis, MD. His Navy civilian career was interrupted by active duty during WW II where he participated in the Normandy Invasion.
A Memorial Service will be held on Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 11:00 am at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, 611 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd, in Severna Park. Reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Foundation in memory of Ronald L. Ward Jr, class of 1937 or CRAB. Online condolences may be made at www.barrancofuneralhome.com