Larry “Coach” Ward was a tender-hearted, fiercely loving person. He passed away on October 22, 2022. Born on July 28, 1945, in Summerville, GA, he was the only child of Holland and Billie Gray Ward. He loved the mountains, and helping others become strong and independent. He married his high school sweetheart, and they had his cherished daughter Stefanie. He attended Mississippi State University, earning a Master’s degree in Health and Physical Education, then moved to Lake City, FL, where he became a lifelong educator. Larry worked as the PE Coach at Richardson for one year and at Five Points Elementary for 38 years and was an Athletic Coach at Columbia High School from 1968 to 1986. He served as Track Coach, Head Baseball Coach, Assistant Football Coach, 10th Grade Football Coach, JV Assistant, and B Team Assistant. He retired from education in 2006. In 1984, Larry’s best friend James Hollingsworth introduced him to the love of his life, Betsey. He won her over with soft-spoken encouragement. When they married, he embraced her children Jacob and Ginger as his own. He taught them not to glorify power. Instead, aim for the quiet, rational, and steadfast conquest of love. Larry tended to his family’s every need, often against frustrating odds, never seeking recognition. Larry was incredibly thoughtful, playful, and a good storyteller with a quick-witted sense of humor and gratitude for simple joys. He was a kind leader yet disdained the spotlight, working meticulously behind the scenes. He exerted great efforts advocating for humane, effective healthcare and leave time for school employees and their families, through his service on various insurance committees. Larry loved his local Elks Lodge, where he served as Exalted Ruler, and championed the joys of children and families through his work on gift baskets and toy giveaways. His favorite work was on the scholarship committee, as he yearned for every person to have the support and dignity they needed to thrive. He wanted to see and nurture the best in all people and elevate others, especially those from humble or challenging circumstances Larry was a loyal friend with great compassion. He relished time with friends at football games, boating at the river, and on the golf course. His later years were filled with laughter and appreciation for his morning crew at Shirley’s and the 4 o’clock club at the Elks. Larry insisted we look beyond the immediate picture. May Larry’s lasting hope for a gentler and more generous world continue to inspire others to protect and nourish collective goodness and inner greatness. Larry is predeceased by his parents, many dear friends, and the beloved family dog J.J.
He is survived by his spouse Betsey (Worth) Ward of Lake City, daughter Stefanie Lynn Ward of Daytona, son Jacob Hill and daughter Virginia Hill (Brian Thomas) of Lake City, granddaughters Alyssa Connely, Dani Davis Duckwiler, and Emma Hill, adopted family Barbara, Brad, and John Hollingsworth, and many cousins and lifelong friends.
A drop-in Celebration of Life will be held Wednesday, November 16, 2022, from 4 to 7 pm, at the Elks Lodge, 259 NE Hernando Ave, Lake City, FL 32055. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Lake City Elks Lodge #893 Scholarship Fund, which is awarded annually to local high school seniors.