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Joyce Ward, preservationist, dies

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Joyce McCartney Ward, an activist in historic preservation causes who helped establish the Irish Shrine in Southwest Baltimore, died of cancer Aug. 4 at her Bolton Hill home. She was 81.

Born Joyce McCartney in Baltimore, she attended Garrison Junior High School with her future husband, Thomas Ward, who would later serve on the City Council and later as a city Circuit Court judge. She and Mr. Ward had been neighbors as children.

She was a 1947 graduate of Forest Park High School and worked for many years for Dr. Raymond Robinson, a dermatologist. She later because an executive assistant to Howard Busick, who was an owner of the Lord Baltimore Hotel. Family members said that in his absence, Mrs. Ward had the responsibility of running the hotel in downtown Baltimore. She attended the Johns Hopkins University but left classes when she became a mother.

In 1958, she married Judge Ward and soon became active in his political activities and neighborhood activism.

"She and Tom had a great marriage. They worked hand-in-glove," said a longtime friend and political ally, former state Sen. Julian L. "Jack" Lapides. "Joyce was the nicest person I have ever known and anybody in Bolton Hill has ever known. In a heated political realm, she could calm the waters. Her beliefs in preservation were just as strong as her husband's. They were co-equal partners. Tom had the dominant personality. Joyce had the perfect personality."

Both were living in Bolton Hill in the 1950s when the city announced plans to demolish nearly 600 homes on Linden, Mount Royal and North avenues and other streets. She and her husband fought the urban renewal plan. As members of the Linden Avenue-Eutaw Place Improvement Association, she and her husband sued the city unsuccessfully. At one time, theirs was the only house left standing on Linden Avenue.

"Joyce was not one to ever sit still," her husband said. "Her life was one of extreme activity."

Family members said Mrs. Ward enjoyed local politics. She started following campaigns in the 5th District of Northwest Baltimore and was a board member and active campaigner for the Mount Royal Democratic Club. She campaigned for her husband when he ran successfully for City Council in 1963 and was treasurer for his bid for a city judgeship.

She was also a vocal critic of plans for an East-West Expressway through Baltimore. She worked alongside her husband as he successfully sued the federal government to block construction of an interstate highway in Fells Point and Federal Hill.

More recently, Mrs. Ward was a founding board member and treasurer of the Irish Railroad Workers Museum — and its 19th-century house on Lemmon Street — and was a supporter of historic and preservation movements in Baltimore and West Virginia.

"Joyce's positive energy was contagious," said Kimberly Forsyth, a friend and former board member of the Mount Royal Democratic Club. "She never felt the need to waste time being negative."

She was also a volunteer and later an employee of the Maryland Historical Society.

Mrs. Ward was an avid reader of true crime and love stories. She never owned a television set.

"She was a great traditional cook. At night, when we were in our pajamas, she emerged with a coffee cake as a late-night snack," said her daughter, Tracy Ward of Baltimore. "She was a strong, silent type of person. She was a quiet and wise person."

Mrs. Ward enjoyed visiting her farm on the Cheat River in West Virginia. She enjoyed going on history tours to Revolutionary and Civil War sites and to the battlefields of the Southwest Pacific of Guadalcanal, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands led by Edward Bearss, former chief of history of the Department of the Interior.

A memorial service will be held at noon Saturday at the Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, 110 W. Lafayette Ave.

In addition to her husband of 53 years and her daughter, survivors include a son, Patrick Ward of Baltimore; two other daughters, Kathleen Dragovich of Columbia and Megan Carlson of Boring in Baltimore County; a sister, Jean Reehling of Mechanicsburg, Pa.; and four grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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