Dr. Kenneth Dale Ware, our beloved father, brother, and Grandaddy, died on October 23rd, 2021. Ken Ware was born in Webster Springs, West Virginia, the eldest son of Audie and Sadie Ware on August 30th, 1935. Among his favorite childhood stories to tell were those of digging ginseng and picking blackberries to sell for a few extra cents, buying paperbacks at the Rexall drug store, and having had the best hill around for sledding. At 16 he started junior college in Ohio, where he went to work at a pickle cannery under the guise of being 18. Soon he would attend West Virginia University, where he met his future wife Mary Ann McClung on the Mountaineer Week Team and worked in the Men’s Hall to support himself. He married Mary Ann in 1957 and completed a Ph.D. in Forestry at Yale University in 1960*. He influenced and inspired many during his tenure as a professor of forestry at Iowa State University and later the University of Georgia.
Ken was an avid sportsman and conservationist who appreciated everything about the great outdoors. He loved to hunt, fish, and travel. He particularly enjoyed antique Kentucky long rifles; Ken was widely known as Longrifle for this appreciation and for his towering height. He also loved a hunt with a good story—and they all have a good story when you know how to tell it. He was a lifelong learner with an impossibly good memory for detail and an enormous collection of books. His knowledge of the natural world was encyclopedic.
Ken was a celebrated academic and published author of important texts on forestry, but the young people in his life grew up enjoying his talent for storytelling. Like Aesop’s fables, Grandad’s yarns came with the customary lessons learned: to read, regardless of what you read; to educate your palate; to watch where you put your feet; never to stop learning. From him we learned to hunt, fish, and grow our own food. He taught us the common and Latin names of hundreds of plant and animal species and never failed to point out the wildlife in our travels or recommend the scenic route. He always appreciated adventure, in life and in literature.
Ken passed in his sleep at age 86, having never claimed to be too old for anything. He leaves behind a daughter, Suzanne Ware Thornburg of Sarasota, Florida, a son, Dr. Greg Ware of Watkinsville, Georgia, and his grandchildren Alex and Chelsea Thornburg and Leslie, Jake, and Ben Ware. He is also survived by his brother Connell Ware (Ruby) of Bluefield, West Virginia, and sister Connie Leuliette (Chuck) of Clarksburg, West Virginia. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Roger and Keith Ware (Carol), sister Roberta Pugh (Charles), and Mary Ann Ware, his wife of 57 years. May he always “run with the young dogs” in our hearts and our stories and hug Grandmama for us. He was a remarkable man, and he will be sorely missed.
Due to Covid, there will be a private outdoor celebration of life on November 21st. Ken will be interred in Zenith, West Virginia with Mary Ann Ware, his wife of 57 years, at a second family service in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, or your home church.
Lord & Stephens, East, Athens, GA is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com
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