Jake Henry Ward

1951 - 2023

Jake Henry Ward

Jake Henry Ward of Winston-Salem passed away on Sunday, December 17, 2023 at the age of 72. He was born in North Wilkesboro on November 7, 1951 to the late Jesse Charles Ward and Noma Bell Ward.

Preceding him in death was Jake’s beloved son Nicholas Brandon Ward, who left this world and those who loved him far too soon at the age of 26, and his older brother Gary Ward.

Jake is survived by his loving wife of 34 years, Darlene “Dee” Fornell (Voiers) Ward; three step-children, Michelle Voiers Thompson (Alex), Lisa Voiers Elmer (Ken), and Tony Voiers (Elizabeth); grandchildren: Andrew McDowell (Ashley), Michael Thompson (Tristian), Ashley McDowell, Callie Voiers (Cameron Movassaghi), and Leah Voiers; great-grandchildren, Riley McDowell, Sean O’Shields, and Georgia O’Shields, niece, Kristie Ward Hilton (Justin); sister-in-law, Judy Ward; brother-in-law, Jim Fornell (Paula); and several cousins with whom he enjoyed many childhood memories.

Although Jake was born in Wilkes County, he was raised in Winston-Salem, NC, which would become his life-long home. Jake graduated from Appalachian State University and began his career with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System in 1975, where he taught Industrial Arts including woodworking and drafting. Jake was an admired baseball coach for Atkins High School in the 1980s and then head varsity baseball coach for North Forsyth High School in the 1990s. He retired from R.J. Reynolds High School in 2000. Jake was a talented craftsman and woodworker. During his time with the school system, and for many years into his retirement, he made beautiful, custom furniture.

In his later years, Jake loved nothing more than buying and selling “treasures”. He was an avid hunter of all things rare and wonderful (and sometimes ordinary). From an early age, he accompanied his father “Big Jake” to what is now known as the annual Labor Day Flea Market in Hillsville, VA. For the last 30 years, he continued that tradition by setting up his own tent in the same location as his father, alongside his Uncle Sherrill and cousin Daniel. Jake has since been dubbed the unofficial “Mayor” of the Labor Day Flea Market by all who knew him and knew of him.

He was most at home in the mountains of Virginia where he and Dee purchased 36 acres of land near Fancy Gap, VA in 1991 and restored a 120+ year-old cabin next to a serene pond. “The mountains”, as family referred to it, was the setting for many “chicken stews”, which Dee and Jake hosted for family, friends and neighbors over the years. Jake was in his element cooking the stew in a cast iron pot over a wood fire in the side pasture as friends gathered during the late afternoon to hear local music, enjoy delicious chicken stew, share stories, and sample some fine, local libations.

Known to his grandchildren as “Papa”, he will be remembered for his child-like love of Christmas, PBR (with salt), and his sweet dog and constant companion, Buddy.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM Thursday, December 21, 2023 at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church at 335 Springdale Ave, Winston-Salem, NC 27104. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jake’s honor to the Forsyth Humane Society of North Carolina at https://forsythhumane.org/donate-now.


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