Saturday, September 17, 2016

Doris Ward

Doris Eaves Ward, 96, passed away peacefully at her home in Louisville, MS on Saturday, September 17, 2016, under the compassionate, competent care of Sta-Home Hospice medical staff who were surrounded by Doris’ loving family and caregivers. Doris was a lifelong resident of Winston County. She grew up on a beautiful 300-acre farm in the Ellison Ridge Community in east Winston County MS. Her loving parents, Forrest Buck Eaves and Laura Carr Eaves, welcomed Doris into a home built around faith, family and friends on September 27, 1919.

Doris believed that commitment and loyalty were essential traits; she served for decades in multiple positions that proved how essential these traits were in her life. Also, her perseverance exhibited her strong dedication and commitment to her church, the library, Louisville and Winston County, the Cooperative Extension Service, and numerous civic organizations. No one could ever think of Doris Ward without thinking of her passion for everything she did. She was a “doer,” never just a participant, and those who knew her agree that this is a major part of Doris’ legacy.

Doris loved school and made her mark as an excellent basketball player at Ellison Ridge School, playing on county championship teams. Although small in stature, Doris was known for her speed and high energy and used these talents on county championship teams. She was also famous for her contagious smile, winning personality and her skill in oral recitation. Her skill in recitation was recognized very early at Ellison Ridge School. When Doris was only seven years old she performed an award-winning recitation of a poem in countywide competition. Prior to the countywide competition, she had already won two competitions; after all, at that time Winston County had over 50 schools. Doris loved to tell the story of stepping out on the big stage of the newly constructed Louisville High School Auditorium to give a recitation. She recalled “just standing there; taking it all in”. As she told the story, she said “ I had never seen so many bright lights and so many people in an audience!” For a moment she was silent, but then the words of her recitation rolled off her lips. Upon graduation from high school with academic honors Doris attended East Central Junior College.

At the age of nineteen she married Billy (W.J.) Ward of Louisville MS. To friends and family, Doris always described Billy as “the best husband in the world “. Soon after they were married, Doris watched her young, handsome husband join the military to serve his country in World War II. Doris waited anxiously as Billy’s U.S. Army unit shipped off to Japan where his ship landed in the days shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Upon Billy’s safe return after his service in Japan, he and Doris established their lives together in Louisville.

The church was a cornerstone of Doris’ life. In a handwritten note she wrote about her life, the first four words of her note read: “I love my church!” For decades Doris was actively involved in various church groups and served as a leader of many of these. She accepted Christ as her Savior at an early age at her home church, Ellison Ridge Baptist Church. Later Doris became a member of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) at First Baptist Church, Louisville. She loved the fellowship with other Christian women and the ministry of WMU. Her strong belief in the value of WMU kept her actively involved in it for over 70 years. In addition to the numerous projects of the WMU, Doris enjoyed annual WMU trips to Camp Garaway in Clinton where she was known for her resourcefulness in gathering free literature for her WMU group. Over the years Doris served in various leadership positions in the WMU and; she was saddened when age prompted this faithful yet dwindling group of devout WMU friends to agree that their group had fulfilled their tenure in this blessed capacity. Before health issues began limiting her mobility, Doris enjoyed many Senior Adult trips on the church bus. Whether overnight trips to places including Branson, MO, or shorter lunch outings to nearby towns, everyone could count on her fun-loving personality spreading her joy to all.

Doris was honored to be invited by the MS Baptist Convention Office to teach primary children in summer sessions at Gulfshores Baptist Assembly in Pass Christian, MS. She was recognized as an outstanding teacher of primary age children for twenty years. Teaching at Gulfshores in the summer required a two week stay, and since she was the mother of a primary age daughter herself, husband and father Billy would take his yearly vacation so that Doris could teach at Gulfshores. Gulfshores was a rich, meaningful Christian experience for the Ward family for several summers until Hurricane Camille devastated the Baptist Assembly.

In the early 1950’s Doris and husband Billy began the arduous process to adopt a child from the MS Children’s Home Society in Jackson. Doris always took every opportunity to share God’s involvement in the adoption process with everyone she could. Beginning with twenty-five other couples Doris and Billy finally learned that the parent selection process had been narrowed to three couples and they were in this group. In the fall of 1954 Doris held her new baby daughter, Cynthia Ann (Cindy), on a pillow in her lap while Billy drove carefully home from Jackson to Louisville. This new family of three spent several happy decades together before Billy was diagnosed with cancer in 1992. During the 18 months prior to Billy’s death in early 1994, Doris’s faith, strength, courage and most of all, love for her bedridden husband, were inspirational to everyone.

She loved the Winston County Library and enjoyed serving on the local county library board for 35 years. Doris also represented Winston County on the Mid-MS Regional Library System Board for 35 years. Doris understood the value of an outstanding library in a community, and she gladly accepted her responsibility to work collaboratively with county supervisors plus elected officials of the city and county to ensure that the Winston County Library received necessary resources to support learning and literacy for all ages. When a new annex was added to the library, Doris’ daughter Dr. Cindy Ward donated a beautiful painting in honor of her mother for her 26 years of service (1977-2003) as a Trustee of the Winston County Library and the Mid-MS Library System. The painting, commissioned by a most talented local artist, features a lovely garden scene, and hangs in the Genealogy Room in the Winston County Library.

During her extensive tenure on the Mid-MS Regional Library System Board, she served several years as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. For her many contributions to the county and regional libraries, Doris was selected as an inaugural inductee for the Mid-MS Regional Library System Wall of Fame in 2013. A picture of Doris hangs in this special Wall of Fame in the Mid-MS Regional Library System Headquarters in Kosciusko.

One of Doris’ proudest moments occurred in 1976 when she was elected Woman of the Year for Winston County. This prestigious award presented by the Louisville-Winston Chamber of Commerce and the Pilot Club of Louisville was given to Doris for “outstanding public service and devotion to the interests of the people of Winston County”.

Doris’ love for her city and county prompted her to seek public office in the late 70’s. She was elected to her first term as Election Commissioner for District 1 in Winston County. Her traits of integrity, honesty, conscientiousness, and fairness for all allowed her to serve three more terms as Election Commissioner before retiring gracefully 20 years later. Upon her retirement she received a beautiful crystal clock, a silver tray and a plaque from the Winston County Board of Supervisors for her “many years of service and devotion to the citizens of Winston County, Mississippi”.

Doris was a member of the Louisville Town and Country Garden Club. Besides enjoying the flower shows where she was a frequent blue ribbon winner, she developed reports descriptive of special club projects. Since she was such a stickler for detail, club reports were frequent winners.

Doris served as the female on the Winston County Farm Bureau Committee for ten years. She always enjoyed the annual Farm Bureau Convention in Jackson. In addition to the informative meetings she attended, during each annual convention, there was a statewide dress revue where contestants representing counties across the state modeled dresses made by the individuals. Doris was an excellent seamstress, and with that “slight sense of competitiveness,” she always came home with her share of first place ribbons for her attractive attire.

One of Doris’ greatest masterpieces is the fabulous bi-centennial quilt she created and ultimately hand-stitched in 1976. Doris entered her exquisitely hand-stitched patriotic quilt in a statewide competition sponsored by the MS Cooperative Extension Service. After winning first place in the state competition, the quilt was then sent on to the national competition of quilts. After winning the national competition, Doris’s quilt was moved to the Arts Group and won first place in the national arts division. In 1976, when Doris conceived this idea and began planning everything that had to be done to accomplish the quilt project, there were no computers, and some of the latest technology available necessary for this project included an opaque projector at the church. Months of work went into designing the quilt before a single stitch was sewn. Excerpts from a splendid article about Doris’s quilt in the Winston County Journal give more details about quilt project: Doris said that she searched book after book for patterns for the images at the library. She said, “I would make photo static copies of the pictures that I chose to use, some of the pictures only two inches tall, and then the pictures had to be enlarged freehandedly to fit the size of the quilt block. Other pictures were just the opposite—too large; so I had to cut them down, sometimes several times before getting the image to the right size.” Several family friends recently said that they “could just envision Doris hustling from the library to the church to home, staying up late at night and then getting right back into the swing of the quilt work in the morning”. As the article in the local paper stated,“ A description on paper cannot do this masterpiece justice. The vibrant colors—every stitch either red, white or blue—and the intricate historic designs send ‘shivering chills down the spine as one reminisces about the pathway to independence.” (Winston County Journal article) The entire hand-stitched quilt is truly a treasure which Doris and Cindy recently decided to share with others by donating the quilt in Doris’ memory to a special place, the Winston County Library, for children and adults alike to learn and remember the wonderful history of the United States.

Other cherished honors for Doris include the honor for the Lifetime Achievement Tree of Service of the Homemaker Division of the MS Cooperative Extension Service, achieving all possible levels of service.

Doris was known for her "green thumb." She anxiously awaited each spring so that she could plant and grow flowers and ferns to be enjoyed until winter. She adorned her large yard on East Main Street in Louisville with seasonal bright colors of beautiful flowers. She did not do this just because she enjoyed their beauty but because she enjoyed sharing her pretty back yard view of the beautiful plants of God's world with all of the many people who drove past daily.

Doris Ward will always be remembered for her giving spirit and love of people. She will be missed by family and friends who knew her best. Of all Doris’ wonderful experiences, there is none that she loved more than spending special time with family and friends. The beautiful back yard and patio were home to times that will be forever cherished, and the great back yard may never be the same without the proud, conscientious oversight of the “lady of the house” for 56 years but she will live on in our hearts and minds through all our days.

Doris was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, W.J. (Billy) Ward, her parents, a baby sister Susan Acrice Eaves and two brothers Troy Eaves and Tarvon Eaves. Also, Doris was preceded in death by Mrs. Gladys Sullivan, who was more like a sister than a very special cousin.

Survivors are her daughter Dr. Cynthia Ann (Cindy) Ward, special nieces, Judy Eaves Moore, Sarah Stone, nephew Kenneth Eaves, several cousins, including a special cousin, Bobby McKay; several other nieces, nephews, and many friends.

Funeral arrangements are under the care of Porter Funeral Home in Louisville, MS. Visitation will be held Tuesday, September 20, 2016 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the funeral home. A Celebration of Life Service will be held Wednesday, September 21, at 2:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Louisville. Interment will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery. To sign the guestbook, please go to