Dr. Joe Ward's roots in education run deep. His father was a coach and teacher at various schools in Texas including Edison High School, where he taught health, PE, and Mechanical Drawing beginning in 1931. Joe says that he experienced "advanced placement in dancing" at an early age since his parents chaperoned many Edison dances, and many of the high school girls would ask him to dance although he ended up sound asleep in the back of the car by 9 p.m.
He attended Benjamin Franklin Elementary School and graduated from Edison High School (now Whittier Middle School). Only 11 years of education were available during the Depression years. He played football, basketball and track as each came into season; however, math was his favorite subject possibly because of the soft voice of his favorite math teacher. "I had to listen very carefully to be sure I didn't miss anything," he said.
During World War II, his father served as the director of the downtown YMCA, while his mother became the teacher and Principal (and the coach, the bus driver, and the cafeteria manager) at Woodlawn Hills Elementary School. "My mother was proclaimed to be the first woman football coach," he said proudly.
Only 16 years old when he entered the University of Texas at Austin, Joe made plans to study electrical engineering in anticipation of entering the Navy V-12 program in Electrical Engineering. Joe served aboard the USS Denver until his discharge and re-entered UT Austin majoring in mathematics in 1946. It was here that he met his future wife, Bettie. A true Longhorn fan, he has a bachelor's degree in mathematics, a master's degree in educational psychology, and a doctorate in educational psychology and mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin.
In 1951, he began working as a Personnel Research Psychologist for the Air Force Personnel and Training Research Center at Lackland AFB. He also served as director of the Educational Technology Project for the Southwest Educational Development Lab. He is the recipient of many awards and accolades, including the Texas State Board of Education "Hero for Children" award, and the Gene Holmgreen Outstanding Volunteer Leadership Award from the YMCA of San Antonio and the Hill Country for more than 25 years of service.
Ward passed away in 2011 and is survived by his beloved wife Bettie; two sons, Bradley and Kent; and three grandchildren.
"Over the years, I have adopted a motto that I have lived by," Ward used to say. "Work hard, play hard, and rest hard...and always try to catch the children being good!"