James F. Ward

James F. Ward of Norfolk, Massachusetts, passed away on May 2, 2021, after a long illness following a stroke.

Born in Jackson, Michigan, on March 10, 1947, Jim is survived by his wife Barbara Ostlund Ward (whom he married August 28, 1971), daughter Sarah Ward, son Samuel Ward, and daughter in law Christina Ward, all of Norfolk.

Jim received his BA from Adrian College, MA from the University of Michigan, and his PhD from Harvard University where he won the Bowen essay prize for political philosophy and the Bowden essay prize. During his career as a Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, he was the author of two books, Language, Form, and Inquiry: Arthur Bentley’s Philosophy of Social Science and Heidegger’s Political Thinking and edited Political Science: Ancient and Medieval Political Thought. He served on the executive committees of the New England Political Science Association and the Northeastern Political Science Association.

In his early years Jim was a saxophone soloist with the Southeastern Massachusetts Community Concert Band and encouraged his children as a member of the King Philip Music Association. Jazz music was a lifelong love, as well as modern British classical composers.

As a couple, Jim and Barbara bred and exhibited their nationally ranked Australian Terriers at American Kennel Club Dog Shows. Later, his entire family devoted itself to Pekingese rescue dogs.

Jim was a member of Christ the King Lutheran Church of Holliston where he served as a Sunday School Teacher and on several boards. He enjoyed participating in the Hockomock YMCA Arthritis Foundation Pool Class for the many friendships he made (as well as the breakfast parties after class). He spent many happy summers on Lake Ossipee, Freedom, NH, at Wabanaki Campgrounds.

Jim served on the Town of Norfolk Advisory Committee for many years. He was a longtime member of the Norfolk Lions Club and after his stroke was sponsored as a Lifetime Member.

A memorial service will be held at Christ the King Lutheran Church (600 Central Street, Holliston 01746) on Saturday the 21st of May at 9:30am. There will be a gathering at the church after the memorial service.

In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions to the Norfolk Lions Club.


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9 Condolences

  1. diane G Haskell on May 3, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    I am so, so, sorry Barbara !!! I enjoyed watching Jim hold court with his harem at the Senior Center and admiring the relationship you two had. I know it’s been quite a long struggle , but he must have been so happy to have you so close by his side through all this. Thinking of you and knowing just what you are going through.

  2. Bonnie Amtmann on May 3, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    We are so sorry Barbara, Sarah, Sam and Christina. Barb you have been the most amazing supportive wife that I have known. Have all of you wrapped in prayer. Loved reading about all of Jim’s accomplishments. Amazing ! With much love Bonnie & Jim

  3. Wayne and Anita on May 4, 2021 at 1:42 am

    Barbara, Sarah, Sam and Chrissy,
    Our deepest sympathy to all of you!
    Jim was so loved at Christ the King. When we joined everyone would tell us how wonderful Jim was and all the things he had done.
    We hope you get to celebrate his life soon.

  4. Blanche Marriott on May 4, 2021 at 10:21 am

    Barb & family, my deepest sympathy. Life leads us on many paths, and Jim’s were all full of adventure. His accomplishments many. My prayers are with you all. May you find comfort in a life well-lived, but mostly well-loved.

  5. Elizabeth Bussiere on May 4, 2021 at 6:43 pm

    Dear Barbara and Family,

    I am so, so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. I know the stroke was devastating; yet, it’s a testament to Jim’s resilience and to Barb’s (and the family’s) support that it did not end Jim’s life those many years ago. I recall the doctors’ initial prognosis did not envision Jim surviving it.

    Jim was among THE most interesting colleagues to talk to at UMass Boston because he was such a voracious reader and knew so much about so much! His intellectual curiosity and passion also made him a beloved teacher. Jim was unfailingly sensitive to, and empathetic about, the many struggles students in his classes faced as they juggled their school, employment, and family responsibilities. He communicated his care openly and unreservedly.

    The most enjoyable part of talking to Jim, however, was the love and awe he expressed for his wife and children: he truly lit up when he did so! He let his colleagues know that he and Barb were true partners in the best sense of that phrase and that his pride in his journal simply knew no bounds.

    Jim has been missed at UMass Boston, and I can only imagine the huge hole his death leaves for his family. You’re in my thoughts as you grapple with this sadness and emptiness, though I take comfort in your strong faith.

  6. winston langley on May 6, 2021 at 12:40 am

    Thank you, Barbara, for sharing this sad development. I had not realized that Jim, for whom I know you always offered–in his own words–“the best care available anywhere”–had not left the Center. I mourn with you, for his passing, and hope that you and the children will take some comfort from his undivided love and commitment to you and for his rich humor and honest grounding of things.

    I think of Jim, through the my first experience at meeting him, when I joined UMB. He was the only one who welcomed me with a gift. He gave me a welcome card with some quotes from political theory. His broad appreciation of theory allowed him a precision in criticism that many of his best students thrived on and they were helped by it in their graduate studies.

    May his spirit of your devotion to him and his to you be with you, always.


  7. Krishna Morrow on May 10, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    Dear Barbara, I was so sad to hear of your recent loss and want you to know that I’m thinking of you and your lovely family. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful details about Jim’s life. It was such a pleasure to learn about his extrodinary journey. I’m sure he was loved by all who knew him! I hope the love that surrounds you right now brings you comfort and strength, and I hope that the happy memories of your husband shower you with peace during this difficult time. Warm regards, and I am here if there is anything that you may need.

  8. Bruce Moulton on August 11, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    I was a student of Professor Ward back in the late 70s and 80s along with the woman who blessed me later to be come my wife. I know Jim loved her, not in an inappropriate way. I do know that when my wife to be told him we were together he may have said some disparaging things about me but that was what seems a million years ago. My wife, Olga, died in March of 2020. We had the most amazing life together and often thought our time at UMass Boston. I just came across Professor Ward obituary just by accident. I have no hard feelings for him even though he wanted my wife.

  9. Paul Quirk on May 20, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    I was a colleague at Harvard. My wife Stella and I had brief contact with you and Jim. (I remember that there were some worries about your health, not his, in those days.) I would not expect you to remember us. I did not have significant contact with Jim after that (I was in American politics).

    Jim was one of the two most outstanding students in our class. I’ve followed his career, occasionally, from a distance. He was quite remarkable, in multiple ways. You’ve had a wonderful life with him. I’m sorry it ended prematurely.

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