We learned in May of last year of the passing of our classmate Michael Ward, whose excellence in academics and athletics at Gilman continued on at Harvard University and throughout his many roles in life, including as a professor and youth lacrosse coach.
Word of Mike’s death barely a week after a diagnosis of colon cancer prompted an outpouring of grief from many of us, who wrote about his unique character, his enthusiastic participation in our 45th reunion committee, and that he had been expected to soon begin travels from the state of California back to Baltimore for a “side gig” at Hopkins’ Carey School.
Mike’s prowess in football, lacrosse and tennis during his high school years was followed up by his playing on the 1980 Ivy League Championship lacrosse team, according to his obituary, also noting that he was a contestant on the Jeopardy television game show as a young man. We’d already watched him hone those skills as a member of our team on It’s Academic!, the interscholastic question-and-answer contest filmed on TV Hill. One classmate noted that after learning of Mike’s death, watching Jeopardy that evening brought back memories of “how excited [and] proud I was to see him up on stage competing.”
Mike’s distinguished reputation in the investment world included exchanging “notes and thoughts” about the new role planned in Baltimore, one classmate noted, and another wrote that Harrison Ward, Mike and Mary’s son, began his own senior year at Harvard last fall, after a summer with Bain & Company and before going to work full time at the management consulting firm’s offices in San Francisco.
Mike’s sudden passing, so soon after his diagnosis, prompted one classmate who fondly remembered him to also take a lesson, to stop “putting off my colonoscopy for the last couple years, which never seems important, and I’m always looking for excuses to postpone. It should be a warning to any of us treating such tests as an inconvenience rather than a necessary health screening.”
Mike became a student at Gilman in 1969, the year our class entered the sixth grade that fall in the Lower School.
photo: Mike Ward, seated at center, teamed up with classmates Roszel Thomsen, left, and Jim Burgunder for the It's Academic! television program, a fast-paced question-and-answer competition with other schools.
reported by John Wharton '76