The Bedford School District and family and friends of Paul Ward are still in shock after the 46-year-old died suddenly in spin class. The Carylwood Intermediate School principal, they say, left a lasting impact on many generations, beloved and respected on so many fronts.
Paul Ward is being remembered as a principal who stood on principles. His University of Cincinnati Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers, Walter Madison and Lamar Cole, are still trying to wrap their minds around how their 46-year-old friend is gone.
Cole says Ward was a “father who’s own father died young and who was known to grow young minds with compassion as a world class educator.” Ward, Madison says, was a teacher and middle school basketball coach turned principal who practiced what he preached.
“He was all about constant work and constant improvement," said Madison.
Always into physical fitness as far back as they can remember, Madison and Cole are baffled Ward died suddenly in spin class.
“It's really eerie. Just the day previous, we talked about what we would do for each other's families if one of us wasn't here," said Madison.
Ward married his high school sweetheart, Nicole and was a proud father to sons Paul Ward III and Denzel. One of his proudest moments may be when Denzel signed on to play football at Ohio State.
“He was a father, a husband, a friend and an educator who was worthy of emulation," said Madison.
"He wanted to be able to provide for and mentor kids who may not have a father or father figure. He welcomed that role with open arms," said Cole.
Ward, he says, gone at just 46 years old, is still teaching even in death.
"Don't wait. Use the end of my journey to be the beginning of yours. Live every day as if tomorrow isn't promised."
The man affectionately called "Pearl," they say, is most certainly at the pearly gates.
Ask Cole and Madison, and they’ll tell you, Paul Ward’s legacy lives on.
It lives on in all the kids he’s mentored and in his son, Paul Ward III who is getting married in July, the day after his parents' anniversary.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Dr. Andrea Celico released a formal statement:
"It is with great sadness that I report the untimely death of our beloved principal Mr. Paul G. Ward. Mr. Ward has been a member of the Bearcat family for 17 years. He served as a special education teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal for our district. Most recently, he was the principal of Carylwood Intermediate School. Mr. Ward was an exceptional role model and well respected by his faculty and students. We are all deeply saddened and shocked at the loss of this great friend, colleague, and Bearcat family member. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."