God speed, Brian Ward

Brian and Catherine

Brian Ward. He fell under the category of “they broke the mold when…”

Brian came into my life 10 years ago when I took over the Community Resource Center. Tall, handsome and brash. His decibel level was always at 10. Even though he was a high-powered financial advisor with a mini-mansion near Richland Country Club, he took a liking to CRC and, especially, to Oyster Easter, our main fund raiser.

Oyster Easter Planning Meeting

Brian, far right, was the leader of the band when it came to Oyster Easter. He spent many hours in our conference room planning for the event and his ideas were big and bold. Sometimes too big, as it turned out.

Like the year he decided we should erect a giant tote board. He had a massive scaffold built and commissioned giant photos of the candidates. The idea was that as candidates rose in the money totals, their photo would be placed atop the leader board. Except that the contraption was so massive nobody could get to the top without a ladder, not standard equipment at Oyster Easter.

Royal Candidates

But the photos were pretty and Brian, in the middle, was damn proud of them.

Brian not only put his mind and money behind Oyster Easter, he also hosted it the day of the party. In retrospect, giving Brian a microphone was sometimes a little risky. You kind of never knew what he would say. Most of the time he was hilarious.

Walker and Brian 2

Here he is with Walker Shell, a former Oyster King and Brian’s sidekick in narrating the Hula Hoop contest. Yes, they have Brian Ward logo cups in their hands and, yes, the cups are filled with beer. And, yes, the longer the contest went on the funnier and louder Walker and Brian got.

Brian Ward charicature

Brian had a lot of plans, not only for Oyster Easter but for his own life. Sadly, last week he died in his sleep. He was 48 years old.

Big hearts. People who spend their time and talents volunteering at nonprofit agencies have big hearts. They don’t do it for recognition or gain. They do it because they feel it is their responsibility to give back, to help the wounded and to heal parts of our society that are often hidden from public view.

That Brian Ward was also warm and funny and sometimes wildly inappropriate was just a bonus. God speed, Brian. God speed.