Thoughts about
Lyman and Mary Ward's Gravestones

Story by Paul Tate, LWMA Faculty, 1965 - 1983

and Brian V. Brunner('64)


The Inscriptions on Dr. Lyman and Mrs. Mary Ward's gravestones on the LWMA Campus.

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Lyman Ward

April 17, 1868
December 17, 1948

Founder

    Southern Industrial Institute    

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Mary Louise Smith

Wife of

Lyman Ward

October 11, 1867
March 14, 1944

Warm summer sun shine
kindly here;
Warm southern wind blow
softly here;
Green sod above
lie light, lie light;
Good night dear heart, good night;
Good night.

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Introduction

After I had added the above inscriptions to Paul Strobel's story (#9) about Dr. Lyman Ward, I wrote Paul Strobel a note on the Message Board about it. Paul Tate saw the inscriptions in the story and sent this massage to me and Paul Strobel on the Message Board:

Brian V. Brunner('64)


From: Paul Tate (PAULTATE)
Dec-8-1999 5:35 pm
To: Brian Brunner(64) (BVBRUNNER)

Brian and Paul,

I read with interest the inscriptions on each of the gravestones of Dr. and Mrs. Lyman Ward. Interesting that on Mrs. Ward's stone (she died about four years before her husband) is a loving plea, no doubt penned in sorrow by none other than Dr. Ward himself, but on Dr. Ward's is the somber, but sad, plain truth. No poems, no warm words, no expression of sorrow. It is to me disappointing that no one who knew Dr. Ward well, and survived him, took the time to write an inscription to express any feelings of sorrow or sympathy or greatness. Knowing Dr. Ward's giftedness in writing plays and poems from my having had the opportunity to read many of them, I am dismayed that his marker is so plain and unexpressive. No one entered a plea to Earth in/on his behalf, which he certainly deserved. A sad oversight.

Paul Tate


My reply was:

From: Brian Brunner(64) (BVBRUNNER)
Dec-9-1999 11:56 am
To: Paul Tate (PAULTATE)

Paul,

Sometimes, the simplest statements can cover what happened or sum things up better than a great many words. "Founder - Southern Industrial Institute" may say a great deal more than we think. To me it says, "Here was a man who loved children so much that he dedicated his life to that school and their education." So much so that his former students, J. Brackin Kirkland, Eli Howell, and Wesley Smith came back to run the school in his place. Those actions show how much they loved him and his school. They were able to keep school in operation so other children could attend SII and LWMA in Camp Hill, Alabama. I of course was one of those later students.

Once, about five years ago, I had a mother of one of the cadets ask me if I were an alumni of LWMA. I replied, with some pride, "Yes ma'am. I am." She then asked me what LWMA had done for me... Before I give you my answer, I will tell you that she went on ask me what I could tell her son that might make him want to continue to go to LWMA. All I could do was to try to express the fact that if he did not finish at LWMA, he would regret it for the rest of his life. I know I would have regretted it just as my brother still does!

Back to my answer to the question, "What had LWMA done for me?". My answer was and always will be a simple and short, "It saved my life!"

If you have read the stories I wrote called "Get a Life" and "First Days at LWMA" then you know what I mean. If Lyman Ward had not been the "Founder - Southern Industrial Institute" then there would not have been a school or a man like Wesley Smith to allow me to attend LWMA regardless of my problems. And then again, two years later let me return when another school would not!

Perhaps, there is not enough room on that grave marker for all the feelings of sorrow and gratitude from any one of the hundreds of former students of SII and LWMA. Maybe, "Founder - Southern Industrial Institute" is enough after all.

Brian V. Brunner('64)


Gravesite 1999
The Gravesite (1999)


Postscript

From: Brian V. Brunner 1964 (BVBRUNNER)
Aug-16-2001 10:26 pm
To: Paul Tate (PAULTATE)

Paul,

In looking for words about Dr. Ward we forgot to look on his monument out in front of Ross Hall!

The S.I.I. Alumni did not forget!

Here are those words about Dr. Lyman Ward:

LW-Plaque 1950

HE PROVIDED THE MEANS FOR
THOUSANDS OF BOYS AND GIRLS
TO OBTAIN AN EDUCATION THAT
MIGHT OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN
DENIED THEM.

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ERECTED BY THE ALUMNI ASSOCATION
AS A TOKEN OF RESPECT AND GRATITUDE
May 21, 1950

 

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LW Monument 1950
Lyman Ward Monument Dedication (1950)
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LW Monument 2000
Lyman Ward Monument (2000)
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