FRANKLINTON - Gail Elizabeth Smeaton Ward, 74, died at home in the presence of family on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 from complications of Dermatomyositis. Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, Gail was the daughter of the late James and Constance Smeaton. She and her younger brother grew up in Niagara Falls, New York. She was preceded in death by her son Randal Ralph Ward of Chapel Hill, NC in 2004 at the age of 36. Gail is survived by her husband of 51 years, Donald Wayne Ward; her daughter, Amy (Ward) Brogden McNeill and her husband Scott; her grandsons, Ward Brogden and Roland Brogden, all of Franklinton; her son, Robert Ward and wife Kelly of Holly Springs, NC; her brother, James Robert Smeaton, Jr. and wife Sally of Palm Coast, FL; nephew James Robert "JR" Smeaton III and wife Aon of Thailand; nephew Brian Smeaton of CT; and beloved uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Gail attended Houghton College in western NY before transferring to Columbia University in NYC. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and her RN from Columbia University Presbyterian School of Nursing. Just a week after graduation, she married the love of her life, Donald, on June 13, 1964.
Don and Gail began their married life together in Louisville, KY, where Donald would graduate with a Master of Divinity. They served several churches together. Gail enjoyed teaching Sunday School and working with youth. She lovingly supported her husband as pastor, and she ministered to their congregations with her own intellectual and musical gifts. She maintained a prayer journal which reveals the depth of her love for God and those she knew.
During her long illness, she sought to grow spiritually, to find meaning in her suffering and to discover God's will in her life. Through her struggles and until death, Gail had a clear mind and a great sense of humor. For nineteen years she faced physical pain and disability with poise, grace, and tremendous faith. Though her body was weak, her spirit was strong and she was an inspiration to all who knew her. She relied heavily on God's promises. She loved to recite the Bible verse she and her husband lived by, Romans 8:28 KJV. "And we know all things work together for good to them who love God and are called according to his purpose."
Gail was perceptive and empathetic and possessed a gift for inspiring and encouraging others. Her friends and family would turn to her for help in times of crisis. She always seemed to know what to say, yet she listened more than she talked. She was an inquisitive and intelligent conversationalist and a trusted confidant. Her prayer journals have many names of those for whom she offered prayer daily. She found strength from scripture, hymns, and letters she received from prayer partners. She received tremendous joy spending time with family, especially her two beloved grandsons.
Over the course of her nursing career, she worked with the following agencies: Franklin Regional Medical Center in Louisburg, NC (1996-1998); Wake County Health Department Home Health Agency in Raleigh, NC (1992-1996); Halifax Regional Hospital in South Boston, VA (1983-1992); University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, NC (1980-1982); Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC (1977-1980). Gail later went back to school and earned her Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology in 1985, after which she served in the South Boston City Schools in South Boston, VA (1985-1992).
A memorial service will be held at Popes Chapel on Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 3pm. 1237 Pocomoke Road, Franklinton, NC. Family and friends may visit at the Ward's home on Friday, January 22, 2016, 6-9pm. 205 Glenn Street, Franklinton, NC.
Lancaster Funeral and Cremation Services is caring for the Ward family. Online condolences may be made at www.lancasterfcs.com