PAMELA SCOTT JOHNSON Staff Writer
April 16, 2013
Julia Roberts Goad
A Williamson native who was instrumental in getting flood protection for Williamson passed away recently.
Lafe Ward passed away in Atlanta after a battle with cancer.
Born in Williamson in 1925, Ward was a graduate of Williamson High School and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, served in the U.S. Navy in the V-12 Program and received his law degree from West Virginia University.
He served as Williamson city attorney from 1953 to 1955, Mingo County prosecuting attorney from 1961 to 1971, Mingo County Board of Education from 1960 to 1970, West Virginia state senator from 1971 to 1983, and served as majority leader of the Senate for eight years.
Ward also served on the board of directors of Matewan National Bank, which merged into BB&T. Always invested in education, he was instrumental in sponsoring Williamson’s local branch college of Marshall University in Huntington.
During his career in public service, Ward worked to improve his Mingo County’s water system and to improve Route 52 linking Williamson to Delbarton.
But what is considered Ward’s crowning achievement was his work to secure federal funding for the floodwall needed to protect Williamson after massive flooding in April 1977.
Tom Ward was Lafe’s law partner. The opened their firm in 1988.
“A large contention of people from Williamson traveled by train to Washington after the ‘77 flood,” Tom Ward said. “Lafe and others met with Senator Robert Byrd, among others. It was soon after than Byrd secured funding to build the floodwall.”
Although the two men were not related, Doug Ward called Lafe his ‘second father.’
“I would be proud to call him ‘father’,” Tom Ward said. “We worked together closely for years;
admired him greatly.”