Ward Jerome Willingham, 71, of Paducah, passed away at 5 a.m. Monday, April 8, 2013, at McCracken Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Ward was best known as a sports fanatic and lover of games. His love of sports was matched only by the love for his family. Ultimately his passion led him to a career in journalism as a sports writer and eventual sports editor for the Paducah Sun, where he retired in 1990. Anyone who knew Ward knew he loved to talk. His children fondly remember discussions of past lessons learned and remedial counseling. He is remembered as a strict but loving father, coach and mentor not only to his children but to all kids he had the opportunity to influence. He was imparting wisdom to and living vicariously through his children until his final day. His presence will be missed but his memory will live on through his loved ones. Ward was of the Catholic faith and a U.S. Navy veteran.
Mr. Willingham is survived by a daughter, Tracey Willingham Drake and husband Rod of Pelham, Ala.; three sons, Matt Willingham and wife Gail of St. Louis, Joel Willingham of Paducah, and Lee Willingham and wife LaVonna of Paducah; six grandchildren, Joshua Willingham, Jessica Willingham, Alexis Willingham, Rachel Gaston, Rachel Willingham, and Hunter Willingham; one great granddaughter, Aiden Willingham; best friend, Donna Willingham; several brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Hobart Willingham and Lois Virginia Ward Willingham.
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2013, at Milner & Orr Funeral Home of Paducah with the Rev. Bob Martin officiating. The Willingham family will receive friends from 5 p.m. until the service time of 7 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2013, at Milner & Orr Funeral Home of Paducah.
Expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to: Marion VA Medical Clinic, c/o Voluntary Services, 2401 West Main St., Marion, IL 62959, In honor of Ward J. Willingham.
You may light a candle of remembrance and leave a message of sympathy at www.milnerandorr.com.