Shirley Ann Wright Ward, 81, died May 3, 2012 at St. Johns Nursing Home in Hays, Kansas.
Born August 12, 1930, in Great Bend, she was the daughter of Sadie Rae (Jackie) Pfister Wright Yarborough and Madge Wright. She graduated from Great Bend public schools and married Wendell Clay Ward in 1948. He died May 7, 1997.
She was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church and First Church of God, Great Bend.
In the early 1950s she worked as a photographer for Sports Illustrated magazine.
With husband Clay, she owned and operated Clay Ward Photography (1946-1996), photographing generations of families in Great Bend and surrounding communities. She was honored with numerous professional awards for her skills in hand-tinting the studio’s photographic works.
In 1963, she accepted President John F. Kennedy’s physical fitness challenge to walk 50 miles. In a snowstorm, she walked 61 miles from Great Bend to McPherson, Kansas.
She was a volunteer and former member of numerous civic organizations including, Barton County Mental Health Association, League of Women Voters, American Red Cross, and the Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps.
In the late 1970s, she founded Inmate Services, which provided legal advocacy for incarcerated men and women in Kansas and California and was a tireless spokesperson for the ending the death penalty.
She was the mother of six children and an active participant and enthusiastic supporter in their multitude of activities.
Survivors include three sons, one daughter, and one daughter-in-law: Arlen Thad and Cherine Ward, Hays, Kansas; Scott Justin Ward, Chicago, Illinois; Timber Kent Ward, Greensboro, North Carolina; Tracy Annette Ward Swann, Glade Spring, Virginia; seven grandchildren, Deana, Kassidy, Mickey, Doug, Melanie, Tiffany, and Jason; and 10 great-grandchildren, Sydni, Deitrick, Bryce, Makalia, Bradley, Katie, Braydon, Bailey, Austin, and Zach.
She was preceded in death by her sister Patricia Jean Wright Epley and two sons, Shane Tucker Ward and Clay Cork Ward.
A private memorial celebration and family inurnment is scheduled. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association of America or the American Red Cross.
Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, May 6, 2012