Jim was born to James and Edna (Smith) Ward on Aug. 28, 1928. Jim worked for Spencer Chemical, later Gulf Oil Corporation, for 35 years before retiring at the age of 52 to go into the carpentry business for himself.
Jim and Wanda Howerton were married in 1946. To this union they had six children, and were later divorced. He married Micki Murdock on April 15, 1997. She survives of the home.
Additional survivors include five daughters, Patty (Phil) Blair of Oswego, Kan., Judy (Danny) Tedlock, Paula (Danny) Langerot, and Marla (Steve) Tanner, all of Columbus, Kan., and Kathi (Gene) Langerot of Scammon, Kan.; one son, Jim (Glenda) Ward of Lewisburg; stepchildren, Todd Murdock and Heather Murdock, both of Columbus, and Larry Murdock of Joplin, Mo.; 15 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren; five stepgrandchildren; one stepgreat-grandchild; sisters, Ailene Richardson of Kansas City, Mo., Emma Jane Lynn and Mary Brooner, both of Columbus; special friend, David Boyd; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In addition to his parents, Jim was preceded in death by his sisters, Virginia Anderson, Helen Davidson, and Marie Ward; son-in-law, Donnie Armstrong; and foster son, Greg Atkinson.
Jim's proudest accomplishments were that of being Mayor of Columbus, Kan. from 1975 to 1979, and being instrumental in bringing Ace Electric Company to Columbus. He also worked at making arrangements with Duke Wellington to paint the mural at the Columbus Community Building. He was formerly active in the Columbus Jaycees, and was a former member of the Elm Acres Board. Jim was proud of his family, and loved working in his yard and garden, restoring antique cars, and sitting on his deck watching the birds and squirrels.
A celebration of Jim's life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 21, in the Columbus Community Building, with Dennis Johnson officiating.
The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Columbus Community Foundation or the Joplin Humane Society.
Cremation arrangements are under the direction of Parker Mortuary.