Mention the name W.H. “Horace” Ward to just about any of the oldtimers in Tarboro and you would likely get a smile on their faces. Ward was a lifelong community activist who didn't meet too many strangers. His love for his community led him to become a charter member of four different civic originations. Ward was also a proud World War II veteran.
Ward, who died Jan. 8, was the honoree Monday for the 117th Memorial Flag-Raising service at the Edgecombe County Veteran's Memorial.
"The measure of a man is not how much he loves someone else, but how much he is loved by others," said former Tarboro Police Chief Danny Hayes. "Horace was loved by many."
Enlisting in the United Stated Navy Reserves, Ward served in World War II from 1942-1945. Ward's ship was in the middle of the heated Pacific Theater. One of the near-death experience that Ward shared over the years included a torpedo passing under a ship he was on and another was a Japanese plane dropped two bombs near his camp while watching a movie during rest and relax time, .
"The impact of the bombs knocked Pop off of his tree, but the man sitting beside him was not so lucky and was killed," said Ward's son, Gerald. "Pop was again spared to fight another day."
After barely escaping death twice, Malaria threatened his life twice. After being diagnosed with the disease a second time, Ward was shipped back to the United States and later was given an honorable discharge.
It wasn't long after Ward was discharged that he made Tarboro his home and began building his legacy as an outstanding citizen. He became a charter members of the Tarboro Civitan Club, Edgecombe County Rescue and Tarboro Optimist Club. He also held two prestigious public jobs, (deputy for Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department and magistrate for Edgecombe County) that gave him even more popularity. After serving 10 years as a deputy, he hung up his badge and was sworn in as a magistrate. Perhaps he is best remembered for serving as an Edgecombe County magistrate. As magistrate, Ward married 2,000 couples, said his son, Gerald Ward during an interview in January.
Jan. 8, Ward died after a lingering illness at age 91. Ward is one of four veterans who have made a significant contribution to Edgecombe County and have died this year and are scheduled for Flag Raising services. Others are Joel Bourne, Paul Shirley and Charles Hill.
Bourne was one of the organizers who raised money for the Edgecombe County Memorial and the Edgecombe County Museum. It was his initiation that led to the flag raising services. Bourne attended nearly all of the services until his untimely death Feb. 24.