June 26, 1928 – June 23, 2018
Donald G. Ward, of Hamburg, a landscape architect who specialized in cemetery design, died June 13 in Elderwood at Hamburg. He was 89.
Born in Jamestown, he grew up in Sinclairville and was a 1946 graduate of Cassadaga Valley Central High School, where he was class president.
He enlisted in the Army prior to graduation and served with the occupying forces in Japan. Returning from service, he married his high school class vice president, Marian G. Fredrickson, in 1949, and did timber surveying for her father, who owned a lumber mill in Cassadaga.
Attending the State College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse on the G.I. Bill, he graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture.
Mr. Ward began working for the State Department of Transportation, helping design landscaping for the Thruway while it was under construction and other highway projects in the area.
In 1955, he joined Earl Grever, a landscape architect in the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora who did designs for private estates in East Aurora and cemeteries for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. They became partners to form Grever and Ward in 1959.
“They did a lot of Girl Scout and Boy Scout camps and they did golf courses, Bob-O-Link and the first nine of the Hamburg golf course,” said his son, David, who joined him in 1983 and now heads the firm. “A lot of federal funding dried up in the 1970s and the cemeteries grew. Now we do everything from big master plans to little tiny site designs.”
Based in Orchard Park, it is the only firm nationally that plans and designs cemeteries. It has worked with clients in 47 of the 50 states and five Canadian provinces. Locally, it has provided services for Forest Lawn and dozens of other cemeteries. Mr. Ward retired in 2016.
Licensed as a landscape architect in several states, he was a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
He became a private pilot in 1972, flying for business and pleasure. He won citations for a 1941 Piper Cub that he reconstructed in the early 1980s, pictured, and flew the plane from the former Angola Airport to San Diego, and back.
“Along the way,” his son, David, notes, “he made more than one landing on a country road to purchase gasoline at a general store.”
An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed fishing and hiking. Until late last year, he hiked 2 miles or more every day in the woods behind Amsdell Heights.
Survivors also include another son, Thomas; a daughter, Kristine; a sister, Barbara Wagner; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held June 24 in Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home, 4199 Lake Shore Road, Hamburg.