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Eugene A. Ward, inventor and entrepreneur March 15, 1926 -- Sept. 15, 2009

Eugene A. Ward, of Grand Island, whose lifelong interest in building things led to a career as an inventor and entrepreneur, died last Tuesday in the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care, Cheektowaga. He was 83.

Mr. Ward was born in Buffalo and attended local schools.

While growing up in South Buffalo, he built wooden kayaks and towed them behind his bicycle to Lake Erie. During his teenage years, he worked on cars and cobbled together a convertible coupe from car parts that he scavenged.

At 17, he joined the Navy, serving on a ship in the North Atlantic during World War II. He also piloted a Landing Ship, Tank, or LST, used in amphibious operations.

After the war, Mr. Ward went on to own and operate several local businesses, including Ward Vermeer, Schaub Equipment Rental, Tri Ward Equipment and Sougthgate Welding.

Mr. Ward and his brother, Gerald G., started Line-Ward Corp. in West Seneca in 1972.

The two men formed the company after they designed and patented a piece of construction equipment that revolutionized how telephone companies, and later cable TV providers, installed their service lines.

The Line-Ward L-1 Line Layer is still manufactured and sold nationwide within the utility and landscaping industries, and Mr. Ward remained active with the company well into his 80s.

Despite two previous bouts with cancer, he could be found in his Line-Ward office or his fabricating shop every work day until two weeks before his death.

Mr. Ward drove stock cars as a young man and later raced motorcycles, snowmobiles and power boats.

He was a member of the Western New York Offshore Powerboat Association, the Greater Buffalo Automobile Club, the Folsom Trailblazer Snowmobile Club and the Antique Automobile Club of America.

Mr. Ward raised his family in Elma but later designed the waterfront home on Grand Island where he lived for the past 23 years.

In addition to his brother, survivors include his wife of 18 years, Noreen Ledwin Ward; a son, Kurt; a daughter, Cheryl Gustavel; and a sister, Diane Deinzer.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Buffalo Launch Club, 503 East River Road, Grand Island.

[S/WATSON]

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