James L. "Sonny" Ward

November 2, 1941 ~ December 5, 2023 (age 82) 82 Years Old

James L. "Sonny" Ward Obituary

James L. “Sonny” Ward, age 82, of Henderson, KY, passed peacefully, Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at Lucy Smith King Care Center at Deaconess Henderson Hospital.

Sonny was born November 2, 1941, in Henderson, KY, to James H. and Sarah A. (Harpole) Ward. He graduated from Henderson City High School in 1959. He lettered in baseball, basketball, and football, and he served as president and king of his class. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Murray State University where he was named All-Conference in the Ohio Valley Conference where he distinguished himself. He went on to earn his Master’s Degree and Advanced Degree from Western Kentucky University.

Sonny began his teaching career at Corydon Elementary School. He later taught Physical Education and Health and coached baseball at City High where he met his love, Phyllis Smith, where she also taught. She once received a cymbidium corsage on Valentine’s Day with a card signed, “James L. “Sonny” Ward.” He was certainly more professional than romantic.

After teaching, Sonny served as the Principal for Audubon Elementary School for several years and was present when the boiler exploded. The rest of that year, he traveled to three separate schools serving the students’ needs. He then worked as the Dean of Business Affairs at Henderson Community College for many years before retiring in 1999.

Sonny was a past member of Zion United Church of Christ in Henderson, KY, where he served on their board and made key financial decisions. He most recently attended Zion Evangelical in Evansville, IN.

Sonny loved his hometown of Henderson and was active in the community. Following in his father’s footsteps, he was elected to the Henderson County School Board. He later won a post on the Henderson City Commission as well as being named to many community boards. One of his proudest moments was being inducted into the Henderson County Hall of Fame.

In his later years, Sonny continued the custom cooking tradition with his son, Thad, as he did with his grandfather, Homer. He also loved having coffee with his buddies a few days a week. He was an avid golfer, and he loved watching KY sports, especially Murray State baseball games. Sonny and Phyllis loved watching their granddaughters play volleyball, and they enjoyed traveling around the United States, especially to Florida.

Sonny is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Phyllis Ward; son, James T. “Thad” Ward (Marla) of Morgantown, KY; sister, Judy A. Kinney of Boonville, IN; granddaughters, Megan Ward and Paige Ward; and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Sonny is preceded in death by his parents, James and Sarah Ward; and brother, Mike Ward.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date and Burial will be Private.

Memorial Contributions may be made to: St. Anthony’s Hospice at 2410 S. Green Street, Henderson, KY 42420.

Boone Funeral Home East Chapel – A Family Tradition Funeral Home, 5330 Washington Avenue, Evansville, IN, is handling the arrangements and is honored to serve the family of James L. “Sonny” Ward. Condolences may be made to the family online at

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