Ira Ward, 84, of Belvidere passed away peacefully on Friday, April 30th, 2021 at Northwoods Care Centre from natural causes.
Ira was born on May 21st, 1936 in Caledonia IL to Wilfred and Maud (Marriett) Ward. Ira grew up on the family farm where he learned to drive at the age of 12 years old by using wood blocks strapped to the pedals so he could reach them. He built and raced Go-Karts with his brothers and friends and before long he had won his first trophy, which he followed up with by winning many more. He became a HUGE Nascar fan (Go Jeff Gordon!) and, when he wasn’t building and racing cars and motorcycles, he enjoyed attending car shows as both a participant and a spectator. He studied and attained the rank of blackbelt in karate under the tutelage of Grand Master Young Hong and then later, he went to school and attained has a pilot’s license to fly small planes. Although he never became overly proficient at reading the instrument panel, he was able to get where he was going by following the roads he knew so well. He knew them so well because he truly loved driving and spun that love into a career as a cross country truck driver that spanned more than 50 years. That same love did not end at the end of a shift either. It extended into his family life as well, seeing him behind the wheel of the family motorhome. Although he and his family did visit many different vacation spots around the country, his heart always drew him back to Florida and Disney World, where he would go numerous times a year. In fact, he loved Disney so much, even in his late 70s when he drove down to Florida to look for a possible snowbird residence, the allure of the Magic Kingdom proved to be too strong, and he ended up buying tickets and going by himself. That minor hiccup did not stop him from fulfilling his lifelong dream, however. With the help of his daughter, he eventually found a place in Davenport where he was able to spend a couple winters. Although time slowed him down physically by then, it did not diminish his ability to spin a tale and, as anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes with him can tell you, he was a great storyteller and seldom missed an opportunity to regale those who would listen of his many adventures.
Ira ever present smile and kind manner will be dearly missed by his children, Crystal (Bryan) Maiman and Terry (Maria) Ward, his Grandchildren Heather (Justin) Milburn, Casey (Valona) Sullivan, Mariah Maiman (Brody Jordan), Jasmine Ward, Alan Ward and Cody Ward, his six Great Grandchildren Kinzie, Terrence, Sean, Spencer, Amika and Luke and one Great-Great Grandson, Colton.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Robert, Donald, and Wayne, his sister Enid Anderson, and his Grandson Myles Maiman.
Ira’s family would like to thank Lynette, Sherri, Bridget, and Pam at Heartland Hospice for the exceptional care they provided.
The burial service will be held for family and close friends at Livingston Cemetery in Belvidere on May 22nd 2021, at 10 a.m. A Celebration of Life picnic gathering for family and close friends will take place at the Belvidere City Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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