Alfred J. Ward Jr.

May 30, 1930 ‒ January 21, 2019

Mansfield, Ohio

Alfred J. Ward Jr. went to be with the Lord Monday evening, January 21, 2019 in Ohio Health Mansfield Hospital surrounded by his family. He was 88.

He was born May 30, 1930 in Dayton, Ohio to parents Alfred & Margaret (Bauman) Ward. After he graduated from Sidney High School with the class of 1949, he was recruited to play football at Miami University (Ohio) by Woody Hayes. He played on the team that won the 1951 Salad Bowl beating Arizona State.  He was then drafted into the Korean Conflict where he proudly served his country in the US Army, honorably discharged in 1953.  After being discharged Al returned to Miami to graduate in 1954.  He went on to graduate from Bowling Green State University in 1962 with a Masters Degree in Education.

Al taught Health and Physical Ed for 30 years, two of which were in Sidney and the remaining years in Mansfield City Schools. Not only did Al teach but he was actively involved in high school athletics. He initially came to Mansfield in 1958 to coach football, later becoming their track and cross country coach. Al then became the first head football coach at Malabar High School. He was also heavily involved in officiating wrestling, cross country, and track and field. He became director of the Mehock Relays for 10 years, and later the commissioner of the Ohio Heartland Conference.

For Al’s years of coaching and officiating he was inducted into the Ohio High School Track and Field Hall of Fame, the Ohio High School Wrestling Officials Hall of Fame, and the Mansfield Senior High Hall of Fame. He also had the opportunity to mentor many track officials throughout the years.

An avid wood carver and refinisher, Al enjoyed working with wood and creating keepsakes. He and his wife are members of The Johnny Appleseed Wood Carvers.  He was also an outdoorsman and loved to fish. Above all, he truly cherished his time with his family and grandchildren and will be missed by all who loved him.

He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years Shirley Ward; children Mark (Deb) Ward, Mike (Jody) Ward, and Beth (Tim) Kruger; grandchildren Kyle (Karling) Ward, Emily (Ben) Gorenflo, Michaela Ward, Addison Ward, and Joe (Julie) Kruger; and great grandchildren Braden Ward, Owen Ward, and Will Kruger.

In addition to his parents, Al was preceded in death by siblings Patricia Ward, Bernard Ward, and Don Ward.

His family will receive friends 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday, January 26, 2019 in Resurrection Parish, 2600 Lexington Ave. with a Mass of Christian Burial immediately following at 1 p.m. Father Nick Weibl will officiate and military honors will take place at the church. A private burial will be held on Monday in Oak Grove Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the Make A Wish Foundation or the ALS Association at the calling hours.

Snyder Funeral Homes is honored to serve Al’s family and encourage you to share a fond memory or message of condolence to them at


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  • Sorry on the loss of your Dad Mike.
    Sounds like he did wonderful things for many students & athletes. Prayers!

  • Al was a huge part of our family at Bowling Green, Toledo, and Illinois. He will be greatly missed but fondly remembered for all his support! Prayers to the Ward family!

  • So sorry for your loss, our deepest sympathy to you all. May your memories be a great source of comfort at this difficult time.

  • We have known a special person, that will be a treasure in our hearts. I will fondly remember Al’s black and white official’s shirts at all those wrestling events, the starters gun raised at all those track meets, and all those wooden Santa’s I have collected that he carved! Well lived, well done my friend.

  • My sincerest condolences to a great coach, friend and mentor. He will be greatly missed. I will be praying for the family.

  • I could write a novel but, right now I have no words ! A great man who meant so much to me and my family. Thanks for all the laughs and good time Al. I know my mom and dad are so glad to see you in heaven. You will always be missed. Much love to the family.

  • I and my brother and sisters knew Al most of our lives. One of the best friends our family ever had. You know you dread when your parents drag you to their friend’s house for a visit. Never to the Ward’s. Always fun and happy. He is the reason we still go to Canada to fish. You will be sorely missed Al. Our love to Shirley and the kids.

  • To Shirley and family, please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. Al was my coach in Sidney. Though he had more athletic ability in his little finger than I possessed in my dreams he treated me with utmost regard and encouragement as our starters. In his own quiet way he encouraged me to give my best to whatever I was involved in. He was a reason I went to Miami. He was a reason I went into football coaching. Ironically, we would touch base after Massillon/Mansfield games in the early ’60s. A class act in every regard. It was a blessing he came into my life and my privilege to have come under his influence.

  • Sorry for your loss. Really enjoyed being with Al on our car getting trips. He was a treat to be with.

  • To Coach Ward, your Mom and entire family please accept our condolences in the passing away of your father. Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. Although we only talked to him a few times he was such a beacon of light that would brighten every conversation. He was a rare gift. You and your family also reflect that unique and rare quality. It’s a joy to know you.John & Jewel Livingston.

  • Shirley and family, Al was my “track” coach at Malabar, along with my distance coach Joe Romano, and then in later years was “starter” at many of my two sons track meets at Ontario and elsewhere. It was proud moments when I introduced them to Al and the praise and fondness that he paid to me from my years as a athlete of his. My sons have never forgot that. We have had short talks together over the years and he has always been a “top shelf” kind of person, who did what our Lord wants us all to do and that is to “impact” in a positive way, the lives of people around us. I will miss those talks. God Bless him and you !! Sincerely, Bob Currens

  • Remember, “We are each of us angels with only one wing and we can only fly embracing one another”. Embracing your family at this most difficult time,Heaven has gained a new angel. Great memories of Coach Ward and family from our days in Mansfield!
    The Mulholland family

  • Dear Shirley and family,

    You have my deepest sympathy on your loss. I can relate because my husband passed away last January. My last memory of seeing you and Al was when we saw you at a craft show at Kingwood Center–years ago.

  • Al will be missed by all. His life was blessed by being a very nice and positive person. I never heard him utter a bad word about anyone or anything. We are in Florida for the winter, and I am sorry we will miss the finals services. Rest in peace Al!

  • Al gave so much to those around him and for us, it was his upbeat attitude and grand smile as he served so many years as a track & field starter at Findlay College/University of Findlay. He treated us and the student-athletes with such respect and was a huge part of putting on first-class competitions. His days on earth may have passed but the impact he had on so many will live on forever. We wish his family peace and comfort as they remember the great man he was.

  • Shirley and family,
    Our sincerest condolences to you.
    What a wonderful life. Very dedicated to his lovely wife and family. Every time we saw Shirley and Al together they were so happy. They were like a couple teenagers giggling and making fun of each other. I will never forget get Al’s permanent smile. He was always happy and ready to tell a joke or say something funny. I remember swimming in Hatties bow up swimming pool with Mark. We thought it was an Olympic size pool! Al will be missed but remembered more for being such a great man and teacher. Always remember the things he thought you and carry his legacy forward.
    You’re all in our hearts and prayers. May God continue to bless you all!!
    Denny and Deb Nagel

  • Coach was a good man, a gentleman and an excellent role model, he will be missed. I was part of his football, track and field team at Mansfield Senior High (1958- 59), he was always encouraging me to be the best athletic as I could be. He was a compassionate listener and respected my views and dreams. I was able to voice my concerns and felt that he was never judgmental. He taught me to be confident on the field, that win or lose there is always a next time. There should be more coaches today like Coach Al Ward.

    Condolences to his family, you are in my prayers for peace and comfort during this. I thank God that I had the opportunity to know and love this him.

    Psalms 37; 23 (KJV) “The steps of a good man are order by the Lord”

  • Shirley and family,
    We were so sorry to hear of Al’s passing. He has touched so many lives as an educator, a coach, and a wrestling and track official. We’re all a little bit better for knowing him. Cherish all your wonderful memories.

    Greg and Mary Lou Warndorf

  • Our deepest condolences to all of you. I know Al will be sorely missed by all. When I find a bone in my fish, I will never again be able to say “Al must have cleaned this one”!
    So many good memories!
    Shirley, several of the birds you two made grace our mantle. We think of you every day.
    Love and prayers to all.

  • I was fortunate to be Al Ward’s backfield coach at Mansfield Malabar from 1963 thru 1967. He taught me a lot about about how to deal with and communicate with players, parents, teachers, officials and administrations whether we won or lost football games. He was a wonderful example for me as a young coach and teacher in the early 60’s. Al was always thankful for his friends and so proud of his wife Shirley and sons Mike and Mark and daughter Beth. We are all so fortunate to have him as big part of our lives, especially in those early years.
    Russ and Steph Hepner

  • To the Ward Family

    Deepest sympathies on your loss. Al was one of the finest men I met in my time in the Mansfield area. Always a class act and a very honest man. He will be sorely missed. He always stopped said hi, and gave that firm handshake. His legacy will live on for a long time.

  • My sincere condolences to Al’s family and friends. I was just informed of Al’s transition and I just wanted to say he was a really nice man. He coached at Malabar when I was in school there and though he wasn’t my coach he was always friendly and respectful to me. I told my friend that he was a really nice man and it’s the truth of the matter. Kindness does not go unnoticed. Thanks Al and Aloha!