Growing up I remember Ward Conaway as being everywhere.
He always had a pad and pencil, asking questions and writing, whether it be at Al’s Restaurant, a ball game or social event.
I knew he was the editor of the Morrow County Independent and that he and my mother both graduated with the Cardington High School Class of 1929. A few weeks ago I shared the history of the newspaper and its ownership by Ward’s father, W. H. (Bill) Conaway.
Ward attended Ohio University Journalism School, then worked briefly for the Athens Messenger before joining his father in 1934 where the two of them published the weekly Independent. Bill purchased the Tri-County Star in 1937 and in 1940, Ward officially became partner with W. H. Conaway and Son Publishers. They purchased the Union Register in Mount Gilead in 1941.
Following his father’s death in February, 1956, Ward became the owner and publisher of the three newspapers.
Ward was not only community involved but county involved. He served on the Cardington School District Board of Education for eight years, presiding as president for several years. He was opposed to the consolidation of Cardington Schools with Mount Gilead because he felt that a school was necessary to keep a community viable. Following World II he supported and campaigned for improvements to local education and the community.
He was always involved, sometimes as a member of the BOE, but always as the editor, in the formulation of levies to fund new school construction such as those that led to the Nichols Street facility being extended and improved and the new high school on Route 529 being planned and later built.
He served on the Morrow County Board of Education for 16 years where he was also its representative to Tri-Rivers Career Center Board of Education. As editor of the Union Register, he campaigned for the construction and support of the educational facilities in Mount Gilead, Highland and Northmor.
As a member of the new Tri-Rivers BOE he campaigned, through the pages of the local paper, for the construction and expansion of the regional vocational center in Marion. He also campaigned for the construction and extension of the Morrow County Hospital.
I remember the Independent office being the gathering place on election nights where people awaited the results. I was fortunate to write some stories for Ward who always had time to converse.
Ward sold the paper to Bill Histed in 1981 but continued to visit the office three or four times a week where he wrote a weekly column. He suffered a stroke in 1992 and died in July, 1994.
Perhaps this note from former Cardington High School Coach Dennis Bell, sent to Ward and Myrtle on their 50th wedding anniversary, sums it up best: “When I was the brand new football coach at Cardington High School and we were attempting to start a football team, from the very beginning I could count on support from both of you, not only as parents but through newspaper articles and coverage. Ward’s support as a newspaper publisher and editor left nothing to be desired His capacity to keep the facts straight and report accurately still amazes me. It might have been a small town but he certainly was a big time editor.”
Bell was president of East Stroudsburg Pennsylvania University at that time. He is now deceased.
I’m glad I knew Ward Conaway and I will always appreciate what he did for this community and Morrow County. Ward and Myrtle had four sons. He was inducted into the Cardington-Lincoln High School Hall of Fame in 2008.
70 years ago: January, 1947, According to the school newspaper, the Searchlight, Anthony Badurina, the school’s FFA instructor, submitted his resignation, as he had purchased Bachelder’s Dairy Lunch in Mt Gilead (Today’s Cornerstone Restaurant).
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