Ward, James R. Age 93 of Cedar Springs, passed away Monday, June 14, 2021 at Meadowlark Retirement Village. Jim was born June 2, 1928 in Flint, Michigan the son of Everett and Verna (Gleason) Ward. Childhood years spent in Michigan, then Colorado during the dustbowl years, returning to Michigan in 1937. It was in the 6th grade, in Portage, he met his future wife, Jean Hazelhoff. Graduated Kalamazoo Central High School in 1945, and received his BS and MA degrees in Education from Western Michigan University. On July 16, 1948 Jim and Jean were married, a marriage lasting 72 years! His first teaching position took them far from home, to Trout Creek in Michigan's western UP, starting his love of coaching basketball. There Jean learned the art of making pasties, bringing a bit of the UP with them wherever they lived. Returning downstate after a couple of years, Jim went to work for Standard Oil. Not long after, he acquired his own Standard gas station in Cedar Springs, working 7 days a week, gaining financial security. In 1955 Jim left the station, returning to teaching at Kent City schools. He would spend several years there as a teacher, coach, and superintendent, remembered by many for having the gym open on Saturday for kids to play basketball. Jim finished his career in education at Morley-Stanwood, retiring as an advisor/counselor, still yet enjoying working with kids. Friendships with many students have lasted a lifetime, looking him up for a visit, calling, or writing a note. Jim almost always had a sideline going, some way to make money, all year, especially summers. As a young boy he worked on celery farms in Portage, learning life lessons and the best places to trap muskrats. Muskrat pelts financed much of his higher education. In the UP he worked at the sawmill in Trout Creek, later had a mosquito spraying operation, white washed barns, painted houses, grew Christmas trees, his excavating business came with some great toys! Whether it was hunting, fishing, or trapping, the outdoors was a big part of his life. Starting in his teens for 70+ years, he went deer hunting. Most of his life he had his own hunting shack where a fun group of men could be found on November 15th, acting like a bunch of young boys on Christmas morning. In addition to his own cabin, he spent time at the Pine Hill Club, there too enjoying the camaraderie and competition of the deer camp. He spent five decades playing Santa at Christmas time, one of his favorite things, going into homes, in parades, celebrating with the community children at the Morley American Legion Hall. Jim spent many weekends in parades and car shows with his antique cars, a Model A and a Model T, taking home many awards. Jim and Jean spent winters in Okeechobee, FL for 25 years, enjoying tennis and friends at the park. Jim was a member of the Michigan Sports Sages, receiving their Humanitarian of the Year award. He was also a Lions Club member and a Mason. In 2016, he was honored by Kent City Schools naming of their athletic field to Ward Memorial Field. Jim and Jean were rich with friends. Jim would strike up a conversation, meeting new folks all the time. Many stories go with all of these years of Jim's life, it is hoped you have one of your own. Surviving are his son Jim (Nanette) Ward, and his daughter Kathleen (Oscar) Hernandez, grandchildren Brooke Rathbun, Rebecca Busic, Claire Hernandez and Grant Hernandez. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Jean, his son Cliff, his sister Ardelle Palmer, and brothers Charles Ward, Don Ward and Jack Ward. We want to thank many of Jim's friends that continued to reach out to him and visit when allowed, the staff at Meadowlark Retirement Village, Meca's Angels, and Emmanuel Hospice for caring for Jim. The family will greet friends Monday, June 21 from 4-7 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs, a eulogy by John Gunnell will take place at 6:30 pm. A graveside service will be held Tuesday 11:00 am at Portage Central Cemetery, Portage, MI. Pastor Chad Pamalee officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to a school or charity of your choice. Or, in lieu of donations, share your favorite Jim Ward story with a friend!