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Thursday, November 10, 2016

How Dave Ward found love in charity

KTRK abc13's Dave Ward is more than the anchor who shows up, waves, takes photos and is whisked away into the night

Dave Ward wouldn't have lasted 50 years at the same station if he didn't give back to Houston. As the main KTRK abc13 anchor hits 50 years with the station, I've been featuring excerpts from my sit-down interview with Ward all this week.

This time, we talk his giving side. During the interview, I sensed Ward got a little uncomfortable when I brought the subject up.

If you know Ward, he's not someone to bring attention to himself off the television screen, but I figured if you want to get to the root of who Ward is, this topic should be on the table.

Any big time anchor is be expected to be involved in their city's charity world. That's how the TV stations helps their communities. Ward is no stranger to the lights and stages that come with being a broadcasting personality helping out a non-profit. In fact, I have featured Ward doing good deeds around town on this very blog, but there is more to the Guinness World Record holder than just getting his photo featured in the society column (more on that below).

Ward's work with Crime Stoppers is so well known that the organization's first-ever headquarters will be named The Dave Ward Building Crime Stoppers of Houston.

But I would be remiss if I didn't bring up one particular charitable event that changed Ward's life.

Twenty-five years ago, Laura Rowe, the executive director of The Variety Club of Houston, called Ward to see if he would serve as the master of ceremonies for the group's annual fundraising gala.

When the KTRK anchor showed up, he was smitten by Rowe who was wearing a red dress.

"The closer I got, the more beautiful she became," Ward laughed as he told me. "And when I was about ten feet away from her, the thought hit me, 'That's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life.'"

Laura went on to found and serve as executive director of Houston Children's Charity. Ward continued emceeing Rowe's events.

Eventually the two married and you won't find a bigger fan of Ward's than Laura.

Then there are the small acts. UCLA basketball coach John Wooden famously said, "The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching."

First his well known penchant for tipping.

"Well, I have a enormous respect for waiters and waitresses, who work long, hard hours, and they have to put up with so many complaints from most people," Ward told "I try not to complain. If, the food's edible, I'll eat it. And, yeah, I've always kinda been a, an over-tipper, anyway. Uh, my wife Laura, she's scaled me back a little bit on that now. I just have a tremendous respect for the, the people in the services industry, especially waiters and waitresses and bus boys, the ones who deal with the public every day. And I try to, you know, give 'em a little extra on the tip."

Another interest of Ward's is simply being there.

If you work in a newsroom, there are a lot of viewers who regularly call the station. Some are disabled, others lonely, but all of them feel the need for a human connection.

And why not call the person who comes into your home each day through the magic of TV?

Most of the time, the overworked staffers don't have time to deal with these calls and they get thrown to voicemail (in some cases that is the desired outcome by the caller believe it or not).

For those that do want to talk to a human, Ward makes time. Out of the many who call in, Ward has been talking to one channel 13 viewer named Gilbert for years. He tries to make time for him everyday.

"I try to put myself in Gilbert's shoes," Ward said. "And I know if I was Gilbert and I wanted to call this guy on the television, if he wouldn't talk to me, I'd feel a little offended, so I just talk to him. It's no big deal."

But it is a big deal to Gilbert.

Dave Ward will leave abc13 KTRK December 9th, 2016.

To follow Dave Ward after he leaves KTRK abc13, like Dave Ward's Houston.

- What Dave Ward is doing now
- Dave Ward's father did not want him working at KTRK and other stories
- Dave Ward's honor saved by waitress and other radio stories
- Dave Ward traveled with the Houston Oilers for $15
FULL COVERAGE: Dave Ward 50 Years KTRK abc13

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