Eulogy For Mike

Mike Ward was my Friend.

DSC_0752Mike and I met as freshmen at Purdue. We both pledged the same fraternity. I remember calling home and telling my parents about my new friend Mike. My mom was so happy when she learned he was Catholic! She figured this would increase the likelihood of my making it to mass every Sunday…and it did.

Some things that stick out in my mind from those early days with Mike: Mike was very unassuming. There were no false pretenses with Mike. He was okay just being himself. These are qualities that most of us strive for, but with Mike, they were part of his makeup. They were simply who he was. Mike was a good spirited and kindhearted person. Everyone liked him. In fact, I can’t think of one person who ever had anything bad to say about Mike – he had no enemies.

Something else about Mike – he was an amazing athlete. But, you would never have known that by talking to him. I learned about his legendary status on the basketball court from his high school friends. I think this was something that drew me to spending a lot of time with Mike – because I was always trying unsuccessfully to beat him!

After college we both moved to Chicago. We lived there about a year when Mike shared the sad news he was being transferred to Philadelphia. After Mike had settled-in in Philly, I remember getting the call from him to tell us about a girl he met…Lisa. Little did we know, Lisa would turn out to be the love of his life, his wife through sickness and health and the mother of their beautiful daughters Emily and Sarah. I was fortunate enough to have spent some time at the Wards this summer. The time there was action packed with the girls putting on fashion shows for us and Mike taking us to a Philly’s game. It was inspiring to see the love this family had for one another. During recent conversations with Mike, over these past few months, he made it clear that the love of his wife and daughters, mom and dad and brother and sister served as his strength.

Mike’s presence here on this earth has left the world a better place for all of us to enjoy. I will hold my memories of Mike, in his too brief amount of time here, with me forever. I pray that I will be with Mike again someday, reunited in heaven.

Though our hearts are filled with much sadness, this message is not one of despair, but one of hope, love, and celebration. Anyone who had the good fortune of spending time with Mike can attest to the wit and good humor, which he embodied. He loved to laugh and more importantly he loved to make others laugh…a job he always seemed to accomplish with ease. He was the type of person who lived his life to the fullest, and took advantage of each and every minute. These were central traits that dominated Mike’s personality. While we mourn the loss of such a wonderful husband, father, son, brother and friend, we should not lose sight of these ideals which Mike found so important. He would want us to continue our lives in the same manner he did. He would want us to laugh again and rather than mourn his death, he would want us to celebrate his life.

Frank Smith

Friend and Fraternity Brother

December 30, 2009