The passing of Professor Benjamin Ward is a great loss to all who ever met him, including Duke students, faculty, and staff. I was Housing Coordinator in Duke's Residential Life office when Ben arrived at Duke in 1980, and he & I worked together through to my retirement in 1993. I can remember the trouble he had with his piano when he arrived, as he was to move into a second floor apartment in Trent Drive Residence Hall as Duke's first Faculty-in-Residence. Ben, as a member of our staff, was instrumental in the growth of that program throughout the 80's and beyond, affording our students the opportunity to develop closer relationships with faculty residing among them. Being such a special individual, Ben's relationships with students were undoubtedly the strongest. Appropriately, when one of the residence halls in Eden's Quad was developed as the "Arts Dorm", Ben moved in there. During the 80's & early 90's, I had the pleasure of attending many terrific musical programs there at Ben's invitation.
I graduated from Duke in 1946, took a job there and never left, and through all my years at Duke, Ben was undoubtedly one of my favorite people. He had a remarkable way of making everyone feel special. There is one cherished memory in particular that stands out. In 1986, at my 40th Class Reunion dinner, Ben and the Pitchforks performed, and much to my surprise, they dedicated a song to me.
Ben was always very helpful to all the staff in our Residential Life office, including the upperclassmen and graduate students who served as Residential Advisors in the residence halls. In our weekly staff meetings, he was always encouraging and supportive, and he was always quick to pitch in wherever he could. I always felt he was there for me whenever I needed him, no matter what problems or challenges might develop. We were a close-knit family in the Residential Life office, and Ben was a big reason for that. We need more Ben Ward's among us in the world. We were lucky to have him. He was, and always will be, a much beloved friend. I will miss him greatly.