Mourners, family remember Adam Ward in Roanoke
ROANOKE (AP) -The funeral for the cameraman killed during a live broadcast sparked more laughter than tears during a service filled with jokes and recollections of a bullied kid who grew into a beloved goofball.
Adam Ward, 27, was killed Wednesday alongside WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker by a former co-worker. But those who loved him say that while his loss is devastating, they've found comfort in sharing funny stories about Ward and relating jokes he loved to tell poking fun at the rival of his favorite football team and alma mater, Virginia Tech.
Here is a look at some of the stories shared during Ward's funeral in Roanoke:
Ron Lough, the pastor of the Ward family's church, opened with one of the jokes the Virginia Tech fanatic loved to tell:
"How do you get a graduate of the University of Virginia off your porch?"
"You pay him for the pizza."
Allen Seibert and Allen Bowman joined Lough in telling stories about their quirky, spontaneous friend. Bowman drew a roar with his opening remark: "Adam Ward was not normal."
A few minutes later, Bowman had the crowd rolling by saying he would ignore a request from Lough to limit his remarks to two minutes.
"As Adam would have said, 'Nah, I'm good,'" Bowman said.
Ward's sister, Sarah Crowder, concluded her talk later by saying that while Ward's death is devastating, "I can honestly say there have been more laughs than tears."
BULLIED, NOT BULLED OVER
Lough talked about how Ward changed for the better after getting bullied in elementary school.
Ward was sickly as a young child and spent much time in the hospital. He also had a speech impediment early in life and was small for his age, both contributing to being picked on by other kids.
As he grew older, "he became the perpetual advocate for the underdog," Lough said. "He became passionate."
Ward later transferred schools and attended Salem High School, where his father, Charles "Buddy" Ward, was a guidance counselor. Even in high school, Adam Ward was a 5-foot-8 backup center on the football team.
"A 5-8 center is not going to start, but Adam didn't care," Lough said. "He just cared about being a part of the team."
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FIANCEE IN MOURNING
Ward's death left his parents without their youngest son, two siblings without their little brother - and a fiancee single once again.
Ward was engaged to WDBJ morning show producer Melissa Ott, who had recently gotten a new job in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was celebrating her last day working in Roanoke when the shooting happened.
Ward and Ott were planning to get married in July 2016.
Ott sat with the family in the front row at the funeral.
Ward "was so excited to introduce us to Melissa," Crowder said. "They were a complement to each other."
Ott smiled when the pastor relayed a story about their first date and how the couple stayed up all night talking.
She clapped when Jay Ward flashed his brother's "'Merica" license plate at the service, chuckled at another story about "The Adam Ward combo" at a fast-food restaurant, and wiped away tears when Bowman told Ott that Ward "loved you more than you can imagine."
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RACE YA, KID!
In a nod to Ward's contagious personality, Lough said there was a time at Salem High School when Ward's principal, John Hall, had ankle surgery and was using a wheelchair.
One day, Hall spotted Ward and challenged the student to a race - Hall in his wheelchair, Ward in an office chair.
And off they went.
"Who gets to race their principal, ever?" Lough told mourners. "The answer to that question: Adam Ward.
"Adam Ward loved people, and the people loved Adam Ward."
At an early age, Jay Ward and Sarah Crowder were constantly pulling pranks on their younger brother.
Lough said there was a time when the family's furnace was making noises, so little Adam was told a fib: He actually had a little brother who was acting so badly he had to live in the furnace.
Games of dodgeball in the Ward household consisted of "putting Adam in the middle of the hallway and hitting him from both sides," Jay Ward said.
To which Crowder said of the sibling hijinks: "Adam was a good sport."
Jay Ward concluded: "He may have been our little brother, but we always looked up to him."
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