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Music World Mourns Loss of Irish Fest Founder Ed Ward

Special to the Irish American Post Courtesy of the Ward Family

Surrounded by his family, Edward James Ward, 74, died peacefully at his home on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, after a long battle with cancer. Ed was preceded in death by son Brendan. He is remembered by his wife Cathy, sons Patrick, Sean (Melissa) and Conor, daughters Caitlin (Jimmy) and Kelly, grand-daughter Moira, brother Jack (Margaret) and sister Colleen Kennedy (Tom). He will be further remembered by his many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Ward served in the Peace Corp from 1967 to 1969 in the Malaria Abatement program in Thailand and served in the United States Army during Vietnam, from 1970 to 1971, being awarded a Bronze Star medal for his heroic service.

In 1967, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Marquette University of College Arts and Sciences and in 1976 earned his Juris Doctor degree from Marquette University Law School. Through his professional career, he worked in politics and in financial services; he worked for the county government, state government and federal government and as a wealth advisor for Morgan Stanley.

Ward’s involvement in the Greater Milwaukee community was extensive. He founded Milwaukee Irish Fest, the Milwaukee Irish Fest Foundation and the John J. Ward Irish Music Archives and was one of the founding members of the Irish folk band Blarney. He was a member of the Wauwatosa Rotary Club and the United Ethnic Festivals. He served on the board of directors for Catholic Financial Life, CelticMKE, St. Charles Youth and Family Services and Tosa Tonight, and as president for the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin.

Ward was a source of inspiration for Irish musicians, colleagues and friends around the world. He received various awards for his services to the community, including his A Person for Others award from Marquette University Alumnae; he also received awards for his commitments in promoting Irish culture in America, including Ireland’s Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.

No amount of accolades can match the profound pride and love he had for his family. Ward was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, mentor and friend. Humble in nature, he was charismatic and thoughtful. Many will remember him for his infectious laugh and his zest for life that followed everywhere he went.

Donations are appreciated to the Tommy Makem Cultural Legacy Fund or the Irish Fest Talent Development Fund.

Ed Ward is surrounded by his family

at the 2019 Milwaukee Irish Fest.

An Irish Funeral Prayer

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Everything remains as it was. The old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no sorrow in your tone. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting, when we meet again.

Editor’s note: This reflection is from a sermon written by Henry Scott Holland and delivered in St. Paul's (London) on May 15, 1910, when the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster.

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