Herman M. Ward, a noted poet and professor emeritus of English literature at The College of New Jersey, died Feb. 18, 2006, at his home in Belle Mead, N.J. He was 91.
Ward received the Governor’s Award for Service to Poetry from New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean in 1986. He was a Dodge Poet from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and served as a poet and teacher at the Waterloo Poetry Festival. Well-known for his readings and poetry workshops throughout the state, he also is remembered for his efforts to improve the teaching of poetry in New Jersey high schools.
Other locations in which he gave readings of his own poetry include the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and in Woods Hole, Mass., where he was a summer resident for 49 years.
He was born in Jersey City, N.J., and graduated as valedictorian of his class from Dickinson High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from Montclair (N.J.) State College and immediately went to Princeton University, where he received his Ph.D. in English literature and language in 1940.
After four years of teaching English at Millburn High School, Ward entered the Army in World War II. Upon discharge, he began a long career in the English department of Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey), from which he retired in 1976.
In addition to modern poetry and Shakespeare, Ward taught Irish and Greek literature and classical Greek. An avid traveler, he was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Greece in 1952 and a Fulbright lectureship to the University of Iceland in 1962). He served as an exchange professor in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1966.
Ward was the author of seven books of poetry and founder of Belle Mead Press. His other publications include high school literature texts, Byron and the Magazines, The English Teacher's Handbook of Ideas, and Poems for Pleasure, a popular anthology of famous poems. His own poetry has been published in The New York Times, Descant, The English Journal, College English, and the Nassau Lit, among other publications. In 1987, he shared a volume, Three Voices, with Eugene T. Maleska and Arthur Bramhall.
A man of great charm and wit, Ward is remembered for his prodigious memory and uncompromising standards for the art of teaching. His qualities of mind and spirit included integrity beyond doubt, reverence for nature, and absolute independence of mind. A self-taught handyman, he spent many years renovating his beloved Dutch Colonial home in Belle Mead, taking great care to be true to historical detail. In honor of his efforts, he received the 2004 Award for Historic Preservation from the Montgomery Township Landmarks Commission.
He surrounded his home with a multitude of fruit trees, all of which he planted and tended. In addition, he enjoyed a lifelong love of classical music and played the violin. Among his other interests were painting watercolors and sailing, a pursuit he enjoyed during his summers on Cape Cod.
Ward is survived by Margery Brearley Ward, his wife of 63 years; four children, Gretchen W. Warren of Tampa, Fla., Bonnie W. Simon of Washington, D.C., David B. Ward of Falmouth, Mass., and Michael W. Ward of Swarthmore, Pa.; and five grandchildren, Basil Simon, Sebastian Simon, Ray Ward, Jon Ward, and Nicole Ward.
A memorial service was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Princeton. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Van Harlingen Historical Society.