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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dave Ward ready to party at end of 10pm news bash

KTRK abc13 legend Dave Ward celebrates his last 10pm newscast at Tony's with TV friends and family

Dave Ward & Mike McGuff KTRK abc13
Dave Ward & Mike McGuff

With microphone in hand, KTRK abc13 anchor Dave Ward addressed friends and family at Tony's with something he claimed he always wanted to say on TV. He then ruffled his perfectly coiffed hair with his hand and yelled, "let's party!"

With a roar from the party crowd, the official celebration of the longest running anchor in America's last 10pm newscast on the Disney/ABC Television Group began Tuesday night.

See pictures from the Dave Ward Tony's party!

I can't say that I've blogged about many historic moments in my almost ten years of blogging about the Houston media, but this week, I think we all just lived through one.

Ward, who started anchoring the 6 and 10pm KTRK abc13 newscasts in 1968, officially stepped down from the late news last night. He will continue anchoring the 6pm news.

There are many Houstonians, me included, who have not lived a day without Dave Ward being the 10pm anchor. Not only did he help raise the station to unbelievable ratings during that time, but Ward is a Houston institution. He was there through wars, political upheaval, NASA's triumphs/struggles, economic booms/recessions, our sports teams winning/losing...etc. Think of all the city and area county leaders that have come and gone since Ward has sat in the anchor chair.

Now for some personal Ward stories I don't think I've ever shared on my blog. For a high profile TV anchor, Ward is really the most humble news guy you could encounter. Believe me, many in his position would not be that way. Think the Ted Baxter or Ron Burgundy caricature concerning lead anchormen in the zeitgeist. Ward, the man, is actually a quiet presence who you can catch whistling to himself down the hallway who keeps to himself much of the time.

When I first got to KTRK, I was at the station cafeteria, run by Novlean Smith at the time, and who walked in but Dave Ward. I couldn't help but ask did he ever think when he started at the station all those years ago that he would rise to such success and be the top anchor all these years. His answer was something like, "No, but also no one else offered me another job." That is a line I have heard him use other times, but it kind of explains his attitude.

As a young special projects producer, I got quite an early assignment. Go with Dave Ward to Austin and produce his interview with Heisman Trophy winner and Pro Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell. Wow. Talk about pressure for me.

So there I was, the night before the big interview having dinner with Ward, Campbell, Campbell's wife Reuna and the future Mrs. McGuff who was living in Austin at the time.

It was an amazing evening. All I could do was sit back and soak in the stories these two legends were telling.

Afterwards, we had drinks with Ward at the famous Driskill Hotel along Sixth Street. The World Series was on TV and Ward was calling the game between the the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. It was immediately obvious that even in another city, people recognized Dave Ward since they could not stop staring.

My original channel 13 cafeteria questioning continued since I had Ward's undivided attention. Naturally I had to ask about Marvin Zindler and the famous "Thank you Marvin" line. He told me many times it was all he could say without cracking up after Zindler's wild on-air antics.

The next day, Ward and I showed up at the interview with photographer Jim Myers and found some unexpected people at Campbell's office. Turns out, Campbell told friends in Houston that Ward was interviewing him that day. Those friends then drove to Austin to specifically meet Dave Ward and get pictures with him.

Talk about star power.

Back to present day and last night's party, those in attendance were who you might expect to see honoring Ward. Friends ranging from Kitty Borah, to Jan Carson and Ed Brandon all the way to Art Rascon and Melanie Lawson surrounded the Houston TV legend. Former bosses Dave Strickland and Don Kobos joined the crowd calling Ward the best TV anchor in America.

And luckily, we'll still be able to Watch Dave at 6pm.

- Dave Ward's lost 1972 promos FOUND!
- How old is KTRK abc13's Dave Ward?
- Can you imagine Houston TV after Dave Ward?
- KTRK 13's Dave Ward: "They’ll probably carry me out of here feet first"
- PICS: KTRK 13 anchor Dave Ward's 45 year party
- VIDEO: KTRK 13 anchor Dave Ward's movie performance

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