Brian Ward, who died in Highway 9 crash, was commercial pilot, devoted husband
'He loved adventure': Ward's mother shares memories of her late son
Last week Grand County witnessed three separate traffic incidents that claimed the lives of three men. One of those individuals was 33-year-old Brian Ward, who was described as having an adventurous spirit.
Ward, a resident of Denver, was an airplane pilot for United Airlines, a native of New Jersey. He passed away from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle collision Aug. 12 on Highway 9 just south of Kremmling.
Ward’s sudden death left innumerable family and friends behind, including his wife, parents, brother, sister and two nieces. Around 450 people attended funeral services for Ward last weekend in Evergreen.
“He loved adventure,” Ward’s mother, Kathy Ward, told Sky-Hi News. “He loved taking risks.”
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His best quality, according to his mother, was his empathy. He knew when someone was hurting, she explained, and when it was time to be there.
“He was never afraid to dive into something,” she added.
Ward’s sense of adventure and the caring, comforting heart he had were themes Kathy continually returned to when speaking of her son.
From an early age, he found strength in compassion, from himself and others, and, according to his mother, had a knack for making friends with unique characters.
From his days spent working as a raft guide on the Arkansas River to scuba diving and ski adventures, to his professional life as a commercial pilot, Ward was seemingly always on the go, often with his wife by his side.
“Any time he was off work he was on a plane with his wife,” Kathy said. “They would be mountain biking in Colorado on Wednesday, then on Saturday be in New York visiting his sister, then headed off to Australia.”
Kathy described another endearing part of her son as his unique talent for showing up in the right place when people needed him, especially when people were ill.
“When my best friend had cancer, he just appeared to comfort her,” she said.
He also cared for one of his pilot colleagues that had cancer, as Kathy explained. Ward would take him to chemotherapy treatments and sat with him while the therapy was administered.
After Ward’s death, his family received sympathy cards from an epilepsy camp where he had previously volunteered.
Ward’s career as a commercial pilot reached a milestone in March 2016 when he accomplished one of his life dreams: flying for United Airlines.
It was a lengthy road for Ward, who had studied geology at University of Colorado-Boulder, but whose heart was always “in the air.”
He first became a pilot at the young age of 16, flying Cessnas out of Centennial Airport. After graduating from college, Ward pursued his true passion of flight as a career and moved to Arizona to attend flight school. He eventually became a flight instructor, moved on to flying turboprops and then went to TMC Jets, flying for that business’s charter service, prior to joining United.
One of Kathy’s fondest recent memories of her son was when she had just picked up her granddaughters from the airport and they went to Ward’s home, where they discovered him busy in his garden.
“He said, ‘Come down and help me plant the garden,’” Kathy said, recounting her son’s warm words and comforting smile. “We planted vegetables and flowers. Afterward, my granddaughters and I went out for ice cream and he went off to do something else.”
At his funeral reception, they ate tomatoes from the garden they had helped Ward to plant.
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