It is only fitting that after receiving the key to the city from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett declaring May 3rd his day, that KTRK abc13 50 year anchor and Guinness World Records holder Dave Ward was apparently having enough of the adulation.
"I told Laura (Ward) I'm getting sick and tired of hearing crap about Dave Ward to tell you the truth," the legendary anchor told the throng of TV cameras and gathered crowd of loyal viewers in front of Houston City Hall (even competing TV stations showed up to cover Ward's honor).
Before his public words, Ward spent more than an hour signing autographs for a long line of fans. I'm sure it's not that the TV newsman wasn't thrilled after the last 48 hours of people celebrating his esteemed journalism career, but if you know Ward, it makes sense. While a larger than life presence in your television, in real life, he is a quiet and modest guy.
|(Photo credit: Debbi Griffith)|
The day before had been an emotional whirlwind for Ward from what I am told. It all started with his big sendoff from KTRK. He addressed the newsroom staff in the afternoon for the last time in a very frank and honest way from what I hear. Then it was time to prepare for his official goodbye from the Disney ABC Television Group stations's 6pm newscast. The ratings were very good from what I'm told.
With the many of the staff in the studio, Ward said goodbye to his loyal newscast audience for the last time. Viewers like myself were not even alive when he started with the station in 1966. Ward has been like a member of the family telling us about the good, bad and the ugly. From the highs of Houston Rockets championships to the lows of wars and terrorist attacks, Houston tuned in to watch what Uncle Dave had to report. In the good times, we could celebrate with him, in the bad times, maybe in some way he could calm us down and reassure us things would get better.
And with Dave Ward, you know you were getting the story straight. In the era of fake news, we can appreciate a time when anchors like Ward just gave us the facts without the tabloid sensationalism other stations dabbled in.
I was recently talking with a professional media writer who said things won't be the same anymore without Ward in the anchor chair. The end of the era has come to a close.
It's often said in Houston media circles that if you had a Mount Rushmore for Houston TV news their would be three faces - Dave Ward, Steve Smith of KHOU 11 and Ron Stone of KPRC 2. Ward even brought up Stone in his television goodbye remarks saying he was one of the greatest in Houston TV history (READ MORE: Dave Ward's relationship with Ron Stone and Steve Smith, plus how Dave was all about Luv Ya Blue and the Oilers).
After the news, the big names of KTRK headed over to Willie G's on Post Oak Blvd in Uptown to a private party thrown by CNBC Billion Dollar Buyer star and CEO of Landry's Inc., Tilman Fertitta.
KTRK past greats like Shara Fryer, Jan Carson, Tim Melton were also in attendance. I also saw Houston sports legends like Astros Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and Oilers Hall of Fame defensive end Elvin Bethea.
Now us Dave Ward fans will have to stay tuned to see what's next for the anchor. Since he has the Crime Stoppers of Houston headquarters named after him, I'm sure that organization will be in his future.
"I just can't tell you how much I appreciate your friendship, your loyalty over all these years," Ward told the crowd at city hall in his baritone voice. "This is the city I love and I love you all."
FULL COVERAGE: Hear Dave Ward's stories about his past
* added/corrected quotes and video after original publishing