Oct 21, 1957 – Jun 5, 2015
Forrest Ward graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1976, but he never left his alma mater, at least not for long. He went off to play college football, drive a Metro bus and even coach a rival team. Each time he returned to the school at Northeast 66th Street and 15th Avenue Northeast.
For parts of five decades, Forrest was a fixture on the Roosevelt sidelines, if not in the hallways, mentoring and tutoring kids. Four months ago, he entered the Roughriders athletic hall of fame, rewarded for his unwavering devotion.
Forrest maintained his deep and passionate connection to his beloved school until his death on June 5, 2015. His body finally gave in to complications caused by a freakish traffic accident nine years earlier. He was 57.
To the end at Swedish Medical Center, Forrest was surrounded by Roosevelt coaches, players, parents, friends and family members, each coming to do what he could never do -- say goodbye.
Forrest was born in Seattle on Oct. 21, 1957, as the third of four children to Leo and Oreba Ward. He would grow up to be a football and track star at Roosevelt High, leading the former team in receiving as a senior and winning the Metro North Division low hurdles for the latter that same year.
He would pattern himself after his father, a kind and generous man, and tirelessly share himself with others. After attending Spokane Falls Community College and playing football, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. Beginning in 1979, he became a coach.
Forrest coached football, basketball and track at Roosevelt. He also coached basketball at O’Dea, serving as an assistant for Gregg Kalina, a former Roosevelt classmate.
He was not motivated to become a head coach, not interested in the glory and power that came with being the person in charge, not enamored with the spotlight cast on the leader. He simply wanted to build character and confidence in the generations of athletes that followed him.
While coaching, Forrest worked as a Metro bus driver, an Athletic supply retail clerk and Washington State Children’s Home counselor. At the latter, he would take boys who didn’t have a father home to meet his.
Two tragedies would impact his world. In 1990, his younger brother Wendell, with whom Forrest had proudly coached Roosevelt football for three years, was killed in a shocking accident with daughter Jocelyn, 2. They had driven out to Carnation to look at the cows when a logging truck lost its load and crashed into them.
Sixteen years later, Forrest had his own unwanted moment with the bizarre. He was on foot when he was struck by an SUV driven by someone talking on a cell phone and not paying attention. Rescue crews had to jack up the vehicle to free him. He was left with untold injuries, some that brought long-term health complications and finally his death.
While coaching and tutoring students, and doing it at his favorite school, Forrest never missed an opportunity to salute his departed brother. While receiving his induction to the RHS hall of fame in February, Forrest tearfully shared the moment with Wendell. Four months later, he was gone. No doubt, the two siblings have been reunited.
Forrest was preceded in death by his mother Oreba Collins Ward, his brother Wendell Ward and niece Jocelyn Ward. He will be especially missed by his father Leo Ward, his brother Gregory Ward (Paula) of Yorba Linda, California, Hamed Rahman (Lucy) of Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), and his sister Debra Ward of Seattle, Washington. Forrest will also be missed by his nieces and nephews Alan Ward of Yorba Linda, California, Travis Ward-Osborne of New York, New York, Kyra Ward and Peyton Osborne of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Asha Dean of Seattle, Washington, Courtney Dean of Atlanta, Georgia, Brook Ayinde Buxton of Tokyo, Japan, Jasmin Rahman of Vancouver, British Columba (Canada) and Uzam Rahman, Sara Rahman and Lila Rahman of Dublin, Ireland (UK), Megan Fell Willis of Seattle, Washington, Brandon Fell of Sammamish, Washington, Michael David Casale of Rocklin, California, Kelsey McDonald Yuse of Austin, Texas and Corbin McDonald of Genesee, Idaho. Forrest will definitely be missed by a close group of friends he truly considers brother, Scott McDonald, Paul Harshman, Chris Harshman, Matt Harshman, Kent Woodworth Tim McKey, John Lamont and Marty Johnson. He will also be missed by a host of cousins, friends and the people he both coached, and coached with and against.
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