Bishop Funeral Home
October 3, 2016
Submitted by: Carol Spear Rice
Dr. Chester A. Ward, 70, died Sunday, October 2, 2016 at home in Ponca City following trauma of melanoma cancer. Although his family is deeply grieved, we know the saints rejoice at his "home coming." "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." ~ Psalms 116:15 Chester is survived by his loving wife: Carrol Sue, whom he shared 22 years of marriage and ministry. Truly, she lived their marriage vow "in sickness and in health," caring for him at home throughout the final stages of a devastating disease. The depth of their love is evident. He is also survived by daughter: Melinda Calhoun (husband: Doug), granddaughters: Danielle and Lydia of Choctaw; son: Chess (wife: Natalie); grandchildren: Kristen, Caleb, Cale, and Cameron of Eagle River, Alaska; niece: Dottie Minshall of Wilburton; nephew: Ward Bigler of Clinton, Tennessee; and stepdaughters: Linda Barnett of Edmond, Christie Wharton of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tammy Wilbert of Venice, Florida. Dr. Ward is preceded in death by his first wife: Linda, parents: Chester and Dorothy, and sister: Donna Bigler of Snow. Born on April 5, 1946 in Bakersfield, California, he graduated valedictorian of South High School in 1964 and continued at Cal Polytechnic College where he earned a B.S. in architectural engineering. Answering the Lord's call to ministry, Chester moved his young family to Ft. Worth, Texas where he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, later graduating with a Masters. In 1991, he achieved his Doctor of Ministry at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Whitesboro Baptist Church was the site of his ordination in 1970; he often reflected on the outpouring of Christian love always shown his family at this first pastorate. Faithful to the Lord, he moved to McAlester serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church which rejoiced in more than doubling its membership. For over a decade, he pastored First Baptist Church in Checotah which saw increases in attendance, finances, and completion of a new educational building. Bro. Ward endeavored to become a "pastor to the pastors" during the 22 years he served as Director of Missions, first at Pittsburgh Baptist Association then later at Kay Baptist Association. These roles involved not only preaching and teaching, strengthening churches, leading childrens' Camp Kay, but also serving as Ponca City Police Dept. chaplain for 17 years. He served on the boards of both Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Over the course of his ministry, he preached 120 revivals and spread the Gospel on mission trips to Mexico and Africa. He pastored for the past 4.5 years at Shidler Baptist. Chester's humor was evident in his creation of a big green puppet: Freddie the Frog. Through the puppet's many adventures, Chester endeavored to point children to Jesus. A published author, his works strive to strengthen a Christian's walk. Basic Bible Doctrines has been taught in numerous Bible classes since its publication in 1981. Chester loved music – from Sons of the Pioneers' ballads to John Philip Sousa marches, but, most of all, time-tested hymns. A gifted pianist, guitarist, and trumpeter, he often played for family and church. His daughter's earliest memories are of him strumming the guitar to "Jesus Loves Me" and "The Rock Island Line." Anyone who talked football knew what a die-hard OU Sooner fan Chester was! He could name the down, yardage, and final score of any close-fought game OU battled from the 1970's to the present. "Boomer Sooner" might rank second to "Amazing Grace" among his favorites! He enjoyed old movies, especially John Wayne westerns. In nearly any scene, he could cite the spot in the southwestern U.S. where it was filmed. Chester was a true patriot, blessed to be an American and truly in awe of God's handiwork. He and Carrol, as well as his young family, enjoyed God's Creation, visiting nearly all of our National Parks. His favorite was Yosemite. Chester was a kind, devoted husband who truly "knew how to love." His children were blessed with "the very best Daddy" who gave of his time to play hide-and-go-seek or Monopoly, drive to band competitions, sort Algebra homework, or craft a boxcar derby for Scouts. He cherished his granddaughters, setting up backyard treasure hunts complete with pirate map, teaching them how to play Chess, or just share a sno-cone. Consistent and faithful in all things, Chester's character was evident in everything he strove to do. He believed every act should be "Christ honoring." He truly lived his love for the Lord. What a rejoicing in heaven over his arrival! A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, October 5 at 11:00 a.m. at Memory Gardens Memorial Park Cemetery in McAlester. A memorial service will also be held on Sunday, October 9 at 3:00 p.m. at NE Baptist Church in Ponca City.
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