Montgomery, Wardwell Morse Ward has taken his last flight. With family around him he left us, after a day that began with his routine exercise class at the Community Center, an afternoon in front of the computer and seemingly in good health at age 91.
Born in Madison, WI to Olga Johnson Montgomery and Wardwell Bresee Montgomery, Ward was the oldest of four children. Brothers David and Malcolm have died, sister Marilyn lives in Plymouth MI.
Ward grew up in Madison, enjoying the lakes for ice-boat sailing and skating and biking to the airport to watch the planes. He played the violin but never to the level of proficiency he wanted, so settled for listening to others play. The family moved to Chicago for two years, and then to Battle Creek, MI when he was a junior in High School, becoming the senior class president the next year.
Ward had a semester at Northwestern University before enlisting in the Army Signal Corps and going to Fort Polk in Louisiana for training. He was stationed in Japan dis-mantling radio equipment, returning from the Army to complete a degree in Electrical Engineering in Northwestern's five year work/study program.
With three years of college ahead, he and Beverly Walker were married in 1948 in Battle Creek, managing on the GI bill and Bev's teaching salary. They celebrated their 70th anniversary last June. Ward leaves his wife, Beverly, and four children: Bruce and his wife Janet, Nova Montgomery, Brian and his fiancé Laurie Groff and Scott and his wife Stacy. He was proud of his kids and loved being with them and their children. Eight grandchildren are Jessica, Bill, Ben, Ethan, Peter, Bethany, Jack and Sam. Nine great grandchildren are Slade, Jada, Collin, Gabriel, Ashley, Maddix, Claire, Emma and Hannah.
Out of college Ward began a twenty-year employment with Motorola, planning and designing public safety radio systems in Ohio, Illinois and Minnesota. He earned the trust and confidence of all departments because he designed with precision what they needed, and was ready to tell them if something was not required, even if it meant not selling a system.
For 25 years before retiring, he consulted as W. M. Montgomery & Associates, designing and implementing radio and microwave communication systems. Ward never advertised but ran his consulting business through 'word of mouth' built on his integrity and attention to detail. He was a Registered Professional Engineer in seven states, member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and member of Associated Police Communication Officers. His clients throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa included most public safety radio systems; the Metropolitan Airports Commission; Northern States Power; and occasional projects outside the upper midwest, such as a major new system for the Tampa, FL police department.
Ward loved music and never as backgroundhe really listened and knew composers and their work, so concerts at Orchestra Hall were favorite times, as well as other musical events in the community. He enjoyed the men's group at the UU church and participated for several years in the annual holiday theater production. He had served on the Board of Trustees at the church and on the Board of the Glen Atrium condo.
Ward's passion for flying began early and in 2013 the FAA awarded him their Wright Brothers "Master Pilot" honor, for more than fifty years of safe flight operations. During his youngest years in Madison, he biked to the engineering building at the U of W and spent hours in an old airplane on display as well as building many model airplanes. When he was thirty he took flying lessons near the family's home in Ohio and began flying. At age 66 he bought his beloved Cessna 210 Centurion, had it equipped with triple safety redundancy, and flew all over the US, to the Cayman Islands, to the North Pole and Alaska, and to many Elder-hostels and to vacation trips with family and friends. For years he volunteered with Air Life-Line and Angel Flight to transport people from the midwest undergoing medical treatment to appointments in Rochester Mayo and the University Hospital. His brother Dave, a former Air Force fighter pilot and retired Colonel from the Minnesota Air Guard, also loved airplanes and flying. The brothers spent countless hours flying and tending to 3363Y. He stopped flying at age 86, most proud of his 9,000 hours of flight time with a perfect safety record.
Ward is a donor through Life Source and Anatomy Bequest through the University of Minnesota Medical School.
A celebration of Ward's life is planned for Saturday, February 23 at 11:00 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka at 2030 Wayzata Blvd East in Wayzata, located on the south side of Highway 12/Interstate 394. Memorials to the UU Church of Minnetonka or the Minnesota Orchestra are preferred to flowers.