Harry “Junior” Ward, Jr. recently retired from the North Carolina Forest Service as the Haywood County Ranger. Ward was a success story who got his start in the Haywood Community College Forestry and Natural Resources program. His first job was as a smokechaser in Haywood County. He later became assistant county ranger for Haywood County and remained in that position until 2004 when he became county ranger.
Ward has worked on fires all over the United States from Yellowstone National Park and the Everglades to many states in between, as well as all across North Carolina. He also worked on several natural disasters including five hurricanes, the blizzard of 1993 and the floods of 2004.
Two memorable fires he dealt with during his tenure were in 1987 on Sheepback Mountain in Maggie Valley and in 2008 at Pinnacle Ridge in Balsam.
Scores of people turned out recently for Ward’s retirement sendoff at HCC.
“Time has gone by quickly,” he addressed the crowd. “It’s bittersweet to reach this point. I got to work with and learn from a lot of great people. It’s been a great ride.”