In a heartfelt tribute, loved ones paid their respects to Chicago Fire Lt. Kevin Ward, a man who embodied the spirit of adventure and dedicated his life to serving others. Ward’s diverse interests and unwavering commitment to firefighting left an indelible mark on those who knew him.
Kevin Ward: A Modern-Day Renaissance Man:
Describing Kevin Ward as a modern-day renaissance man perfectly encapsulates his multifaceted life. He wasn’t just a firefighter; he was an adventurer, an explorer of various talents and passions.
Passion for Adventure:
Ward’s love for adventure was palpable. It was a defining feature of his character, akin to the adventurous spirit of Bilbo Baggins from his favorite book, “The Hobbit.” This passion for the unknown fueled his life and inspired those around him.
A Hero’s Farewell:
On the day of his funeral, hundreds of firefighters from across the country gathered to honor Ward’s memory. The Fourth Presbyterian Church in Streeterville became a gathering place for those who wanted to bid farewell to a true hero.
The Journey to Rest:
As a fire engine carried his casket, draped in the Chicago flag, to the church, two towering ladder trucks proudly displayed a large American flag over Michigan Avenue. It was a solemn procession befitting a man of Lt. Ward’s stature.
An Adventurous Heart:
His ex-wife, Corrinne Walenda, shared insights into Ward’s adventurous spirit. He was always immensely curious and thrived on challenges. This love for the unknown was a driving force in his life.
The Hobbit’s Influence:
Bilbo Baggins’ famous line, “I’m going on an adventure!” became a mantra for Ward. It was an expression of his eagerness to explore new horizons, both in his personal life and his career as a firefighter.
A Diverse Range of Interests:
Beyond firefighting, Ward pursued a remarkable array of hobbies. From iron welding to glassblowing, engineering to rock climbing, sailing to skiing, and even the obscure sport of underwater hockey, he embraced life with an open heart.
Ward’s talents extended to engineering. He once rebuilt the engine of a Porsche, showcasing his ability to master intricate tasks.
A Love for SCUBA Diving:
Introduced to SCUBA diving by Corrinne Walenda, Ward’s passion for this underwater adventure knew no bounds. He logged more than 400 hours of diving in just two years, a testament to his dedication.
A Remarkable Encounter:
One of his most remarkable diving experiences was encountering a whale shark near the Darwin Arch in the Galapagos Islands. It was a testament to his adventurous spirit and fearlessness.
A Unique Bond:
Despite their divorce, Ward and Walenda remained close friends. Their two German Shepherds, Skye and her new owner, continued the bond they shared.
A Varied Journey:
Ward’s life journey was diverse, starting in Oxford, England, and leading to Ann Arbor, Michigan. He pursued numerous careers, from trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to working at ski resorts and as a hotel chef.
Versatility in Service:
Within the Chicago Fire Department, Ward’s versatility shone. He served as a firefighter, emergency medical technician, rescue diver, and played roles in airport operations and hazardous materials response.
A Dream of Retirement:
Ward had plans to retire to a cabin in Colorado with his beloved dog, Skye. He was building a glassblowing workshop at the cabin, where he aimed to continue pursuing his passion for glass artistry.
A City’s Loss:
Mayor Brandon Johnson recognized Ward’s sacrifice, describing him as a son, brother, friend, uncle, and hero who put service above self.
A Legacy of Service:
Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt spoke of Ward’s dedication to firefighting and how he embodied the essence of service. His memory will forever inspire those who wear the uniform.
A Special Bond with Skye:
Ward’s bond with Skye was remarkable, to the point where she became a fixture at the firehouse. A decal honoring their unique connection will adorn Ward’s Truck 9.
A Private Farewell:
Ward’s family held a private burial after the funeral, ensuring a personal and intimate farewell.
Lt. Kevin Ward’s life was a testament to the power of adventure, dedication, and service. His legacy will continue to inspire all who knew him.