Over the weekend, we were saddened to learn of the death of our friend Jack Ward, who died September 3 at the age of 66. Jack was an advisory board member of the Coney Island History Project and was also our Surf Avenue neighbor, having moved his law practice back to Coney Island in 2000. As the grandson of Coney pioneer William J. Ward, he managed Ward Realty, representing the last of the original land grant families owning property in Coney Island. In 2008, Jack and his wife, Mary Beth, accepted the Coney Island Hall of Fame Award for his grandfather at a ceremony at our exhibit center.
In a 2007 interview for the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive, Jack Ward recounted his family’s long history in Coney Island. He begins with his great grandfather John Ward's purchase of beachfront property at 12th Street and Surf Avenue in 1879 and continues through his grandfather William J. Ward's participation in the development of the Half Moon Hotel and the Wonder Wheel. Jack’s grandfather, William J. Ward, was president of the Bank of Coney Island and a founding member of the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce. The Wards also built Coney's first boardwalk and operated Ward's Kiddie park for half a century. You can listen to the audio interview with CIHP Director Charles Denson here.