With family by his side, Rodney Ward passed away at home on Tuesday, November 29, 2022 after a 7-month long battle with lung cancer.
Remaining to forever cherish Rod’s memory are his wife of almost 43 years, Christine; daughters Nicola (Robert) Natalie (Nick) , and Elizabeth (Aaron) ; brother Colin (England); brother Chris (Carol -- Australia); grandchildren Ilessa, Nathan & Daniel; sister-in-law Janice; nephews: Jonathan & Simon (Australia), Nick and Andrew (England); Joshua (Vancouver), Tommy and Shawn (Winnipeg), very special niece Jennifer (Kyle - Winnipeg), and wonderful friends: Patricia Foster & Sylvia Pringle (England), Harvey, Tony, Barry & Marilyn, Paolo & Rosa, Patty & Al, Ethel & Mirko, Anne Marie & Bo, Lisa, Michelle, Kim & David, Trish & Charlie, Bob & Jo-Anne. Rod was predeceased by his father Fred and his mother Della (nee Walker).
Born on February 12, 1941 during the Battle of Britain in Nottingham, England, Rod grew up in an area called Sneinton Dale, going to Jesse Boot Primary School, and then to St. Margaret’s School in West Bridgford. Rod put on his first pair of skates at age 10, was a member of Nottingham Ice Dance Club, and switched over to pair skating shortly thereafter. Later in 1953, he won the Vera Pilsworth Trophy for free skating. That same year, Rod started training in London with Carolyn Krau as his partner in pair skating. At age 13, Rod and his 11 year old partner, Carolyn, came second in the British Junior Championships. The following year they came in first.
Rod and Carolyn became the YOUNGEST pair skaters at ages 14 and 12 to represent Great Britain in the 1956 Winter Olympics held in Cortina, Italy. (They still hold this title.) This led to the 1956 European and World Championships held in Paris, France and Garmisch, Germany respectively. In early 1957, Rod won the Junior Men's Singles, and he and Carolyn also won the “Pairs Championships” in the Southern Counties Championships. In late 1957, Rod took home a third in the British Senior Men's Singles, and he and his partner took a second in the Senior Pairs Skating Championships. After the 1958 European Championships (held in Bratislava, Czech) and World Championships (held in Paris, France), Rod taught figure skating in London for two years. In 1960 he won a Bronze Medal, coming in third in the World Professional Men's Championships in his hometown of Nottingham.
1960-61 found Rod in ice shows -- "Holiday on Ice Europe", where he played the part of John Darling in Peter Pan on Ice. During that period, he was also commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation to do TV shows, one of which was entitled “Hot Ice & Cool Music”. Almost signing with Ice Capades, Rod decided instead to "come down to earth", as he put it. He became a salesman for Philips Dictation Equipment in 1964, working for Solicitors Law and Rymans Group in England.
Prior to leaving England, Rod worked in a pub near Roehampton Cricket Club where many celebrities lived. He told stories of meeting Sean Connery and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as Paul McCartney & Linda (prior to their marriage).
In 1969, Rod moved to Canada, where he became sales manager for the Philips Division at National Typewriter (IKON Office Solutions) in Winnipeg until 1997. Rod said he never considered selling anything else.
Rod and I met in August 1978. He was smooth and charming with his British accent, and I fell in love with my silver-haired Englishman. Seven months later, Rod asked me to marry him and we tied the knot on June 7, 1980.
We were always so loving to each other and were often asked if we were newlyweds,. Rod would reply we were “still on our honeymoon; we’ve only been married 42 years!”
All of our friends said we were the true love story; that they had never seen two people so much in love. They often remarked that our love for each other grew with each passing year.
Rod was one of those special people that everyone loved. He had a natural charisma that people were drawn to. Rod was an understanding, kind, honest, sentimental, and romantic, as well as a giving person. He loved me with all his heart and soul, telling me this constantly. His 3 daughters: Nicola, Natalie & Elizabeth were the light of his life, and so very precious to him. He would often travel on VIA Rail out west to spend some quality time with each of his daughters and eventually his grandchildren.
Rod LOVED to make people laugh, and was well-known for his jokes and stories. He would just begin to tell a joke and people would already start to laugh, knowing he would make them laugh until the tears ran down their faces. ROD WAS AN ENTERTAINER! -- from his skating days to the times he played the Lord of the Feast at the Viscount Gort, to our parties at home. All of our friends have stories about his zany antics!
Rod was a natural athlete, and his passion was cricket. He said he would have exchanged his Olympic skating career for playing professional cricket in England. Rod joined the Carshalton and Roehampton Cricket Clubs in London. In Winnipeg, Rod played in Assiniboine Park cricket field from 1969 to 1980, still a “fast bowler” at age 40 when he retired from the game. Rod was an avid “darts” player, belonging to ANAF Assiniboia for many years. A member of Charleswood, then Wildewood, and finally Transcona golf courses, Rod loved the camaraderie but mostly the “competitiveness” of golf. Another competitive sport he enjoyed was bowling, with the CN Vets group at Polo Park and the Eaton’s Group at St. James.
We bought our home in 1980 and, while I was moving boxes in, Rod was starting to build the British Pub in our basement. We had taken a picture of a pub we loved near Canterbury, called the Plough & Sail, and Rod replicated it. He was so proud of the pub that he would sometimes bring strangers in to see it—people he would meet while walking our dog. Everyone who came in our front door was encouraged to visit the “Nottingham Arms”. CBC’s Jim Ingebritson filmed and interviewed our friends enjoying the camaraderie, drinking a half-yard of ale, and throwing some darts of “outrageous fortune". This aired on a show called “Breakaway”.
Rod loved cruising and also looked forward to our 3-month-long winter stays in Mexico, where he could sit on the beach in Puerto Vallarta and order 5 beer for the equivalent of $5, or while in La Penita, renting a casita from Dawn & Brian Blevings. After spending 5+ years in La Penita, we started staying at Now Amber Resort & Spa in PV. This was the only resort in PV that Rod wanted to go to, and we went every year for 10 years. This is also where we renewed our vows on the beach for our 40th wedding anniversary.
Our Rod loved a good deal and was always looking for bargains. He was very conscious of money. He would always ask me what things cost, and then complain how expensive things had become. Rod enjoyed shopping in ValuVillage, and would come home to try on the clothes, saying “I stand before you for a total of $8.04, except for socks and underwear.”
Rod bought me an anniversary card one year that he complained cost him $7.00. I jokingly told him, if he felt it was too expensive, he could give it to me again the following year for our anniversary. Well, HE DID!! He gave me the same card every year from that time forward. And we laughed every time I opened it. We would put on the piano music to Greensleeves, the first dance from our wedding, and spend the rest of our anniversary dancing.
Rod wasn’t a big eater, but he could put away a pound of candy in no time flat. He enjoyed his pork chops cooked until they were dried out, and he was hard-pressed to share his English processed peas with anyone. When he discovered Fergie’s Fish n Chips at Polo Park’s food court, you could see him there at least 10 times per month. Rod went there SO OFTEN that he got to know the owner, Gus, who would call out “Hey Rod, the usual??”
Rod had a soft spot for England, and especially for his home town of Nottingham. Rod would return again and again to see his brothers Colin & Chris, and to go to Nottingham, re-acquainting himself with the area of his childhood, Sneinton Dale. He would tell me stories of him going to Dale’s Fish ‘n’ Chips or the Rio Cinema, about the people and businesses across the street from his house, and how he and his younger brother Chris, followed by their dog Rusty, would play cricket on the Common or run through Colwick Woods.
Rod loved women. They were all charmed by him, His favourite though was my mother Mary. He loved her as if she were his own mother, and it broke his heart when she passed away in 2005. He shared a very special relationship with “Nurse Mary”, and I’m sure she’s looking after him right now, as she did after every one of his five vascular surgeries.
Rod was a treasure, the better part of me, and will be forever missed. I loved everything about this man: his smile, the way he talked in his sleep, the fact he sneezed 7 times if he’d had too much to drink, and the way he could make me laugh, even if I was annoyed at him.
I’ve realized that Rod isn’t really gone for good, because he’s left us ALL with memories in our hearts and pictures of him in our minds. Rod’s just gone on a little ahead, waiting for us.
I am so grateful for all the amazing years Rod and I had together. I’m thankful for the great experiences we shared, and the love I still feel for him.
If you would like to share in celebrating Rod’s life, you can either attend a Celebration of Life in his honour to be held Monday, December 19th at 1 p.m., E J Coutu Funeral Chapel, 680 Archibald Street in St. Boniface. MASKS ENCOURAGED.
Or instead, as Rod might suggest, spend some time in your favourite place, and raise a glass to him, knowing that he will be saying “You can’t say I haven’t had a full life.”
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Winnipeg Humane Society, as Rod loved all animals, especially our darling Zara and his “best friend” Bella.