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Katy Mourns the Loss of Former Mayor Ward Stanberry


May 14, 2020

By Jennifer Miko

Former City of Katy Mayor Ward Stanberry passed away Monday, May 11 from complications from a 20-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease. The World War II veteran served as a Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem during the 1960s and was Mayor of the City of Katy from 1988 to 1991.

Ward Allen Stanberry was born in Needles, CA on August 12, 1924. His father painted water towers during the Depression, so the family moved frequently. During the first grade, Ward attended seven different schools.

After high school, Ward was commissioned for the Navy from Columbia University Midshipman School. He served from December, 1942 to August, 1946. During the War, he was a Lieutenant stationed in the Pacific Arena.

In 1942, Ward’s father worked in Katy helping Mr. Stockdick raise cattle. Ward met Marilyn Edwina Stockdick, at the Trinity Apostolic Faith Church, where Ward's grandfather was one of the first pastors. Marilyn, a life-long resident of Katy, attended Katy High School at the time.

After the War, Ward attended Western Michigan University and earned a BS in Accounting.

He moved to Katy and married Marilyn in August, 1949. In the fall of 1950, the young couple moved into their home on Franz Road.

Their family grew over the years as they welcomed three daughters: Janet, Betty and Sharon. All three girls graduated from Katy High School and pursued careers in education.

Ward ran his own insurance agency in Katy until 1993. He was also an avid golfer and founded Green Meadows, a private golf course built on land owned by the Stockdick family. He loved to hit the links, and apparently wasn’t afraid of the water hazards. Sometimes he would interrupt his round to fish in the Cane Island branch of the Buffalo Bayou on the course. Green Meadows was open from 1965-2008. Today, the Falls at Green Meadows subdivision has replaced the course.

Marilyn and Ward were married for 58 years when she died in 2008 at the age of 81.

Serving the Katy Community

Over the years, Ward was a member of the Rotary Club, served on the board of the Trinity Apostolic Faith Church, and volunteered on numerous other committees. For several years, he served as Election Judge and as Draft Registrar.

In 1961, Ward was elected to the City Council where he served three terms. He then served as Chairman of the Home Rule Charter Commission from 1978-1981 He was Chairman of the Flood Control Committee for several years, a member of the Zoning Commission in 1983, and Chairman of the Sign Ordinance Revision Committee in 1987.

From 1988-1991, he served as the Mayor of the City of Katy.

The City of Katy Mayors in order of service (l-r) John Morrison 1979-1983, Johnny Nelson 1983-1987, Ward Stanberry 1988-1991, Skip Conner 1991-1995, Hank Schmidt, Jr. 1995–2001, Doyle Callender 2001-2007, Don Elder Jr. 2007-2013 Photo: Katy Magazine

Remembered for His Dedication to Katy

Bill Hastings, the current Mayor of the City of Katy, remembered Ward for his great love for the Katy community.

“Ward was a pillar of the community and an integral part of the foundation upon which this City stands,” says Mayor Hastings. “His years of unselfish civic and community service will never be forgotten. Our sympathy and prayers are with his family and the Katy Community during this time of great loss.”

Family Road Trips

Ward and Marilyn's daughter Janet Stanberry taught at Katy Junior High for 28 years. She remembered how her father was involved in the community. But she also knew how much he loved to sing old “novelty” songs, fish, ride his bike, and share his sense of adventure with the family.

“Some parents don’t want to travel with kids,” recalls Janet. “Dad always reserved his vacation time in the summer for us to take trips. He always highlighted the route we would take, using an atlas.”

Janet and her sister Sharon, a teacher in Roundrock, said they visited a lot of landmarks and national parks across the country. Sharon said he always let her climb to the top of anything that could be climbed.

Even into his late 80s, Ward took his grandsons skiing in Colorado.

“He didn’t let Parkinson’s slow him down,” says Janet. “He was a hands-on grandpa, he always spent time with them.”

A Friend Who Will Be Missed

Marilyn and David Frishman met the Stanberry family when they moved to Katy in 1974. In an interview with Katy Magazine, David Frishman spoke about his friend “Dear Ward.”

“Everybody just cared and loved Ward, just a class act,” Frishman says of their 46-year friendship.

The two men had neighboring offices on 3rd Street in Old Katy and spoke to each other all of the time. Frishman said they were friends from the beginning, and experienced a lot of changes in the town.

For perspective, in the early 1970s, the City of Katy had a population of about 1700 people. Frishman said he and Ward actually were married to two of the four “Marilyns” in the town. He laughed when he recounted calling the operator who would ask which Marilyn to connect him to.

Frishman and Ward served on many town committees together, and Frishman said, “I was usually at his elbow, as his ‘vice.’ We did it to make Katy a better place for all of our friends to live.”

Dedicated Veteran

Ward was the last surviving founding member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9182, in Katy. He was also a life member and Past Post Commander.

Betty Edmundson, the Administrative Assistant to the Commander at VFW Post 9182, knew Ward for about 25 years. She said he was always active, and loved to ride his bicycle, even in parades with the VFW.

“He was always a dedicated member of the Post, and was proud to be a veteran,” recalls Edmundson.

She fondly remembered his friendliness and described him as an all-around good guy.

“He gave you everything he could give, and never asked for anything in return,” says Edmundson. “He will be greatly missed.”

Ward was a member of VFW Post 9182 for more than 70 years.

Community Shares Condolences

Friends and acquaintances posted their condolences on Facebook.

“He never met a stranger even if it was the first time,” wrote Bonnie Beckendorff West. “He always made you feel so important to him. Another great one gone.”

“Ward was a kind man and always gave to the community,” says Marilyn Frishman. “I am happy he was my friend. He will be missed.”

Memorial for Public Servant and Veteran

A service will be held tomorrow, Friday, May 15 at the Magnolia Cemetery, 6801 Franz Rd., at 11a.m. under the pavilion so social distancing can be observed.

The VFW will have four of their honor guard at the service and will present the family with a flag in honor of Ward’s service to the country, and the City of Katy Police Honor Guard will pay tribute to him as well.

Schmidt Funeral Home,1508 East Avenue in Katy is handling the arrangements. For more information, visit their website here.

Those wishing to make memorial gifts may do so to the Katy VFW Post 9182, P.O. Box 37, Katy, Texas 77492 or to Trinity Apostolic Faith Church, 5900 Tenth Street, Katy, Texas 77493. For more information, visit their website here.

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