Rev. Robert Brannin “Buck” Ward

A long time ago in a land far, far away, in the wilds of the Crazy Mountains of Montana, birth pangs signaled that the time had come for a special delivery.  The long trip was made the 40 miles to the town of Big Timber, Montana. On the 20th of June 1925, the noon siren sounded.  Firemen ran to the café for their mid-day meal and coffee.  About the same time, another sound was heard.  It was the sound of a smack on a baby’s bottom and a newborn’s cry as his lungs filled with air for the very first time.  The squirming little boy made his entrance into the world and into the hearts of those who looked at him.  He stole his mother’s heart.  Robert Brannin Ward was a wiggly, scrawny little guy.  He never grew much more through the years, though his heart grew so large that words and thoughts cannot measure its immensity.  As a little tyke, he was dubbed “Buck” for the “buck” overalls he wore. 

Buck could ride a bull, fish a mountain stream, climb a mountain like nobody’s business, clear a mountain trail, write a book, spin a yarn, preach a sermon, raise rambunctious kids, move his family across the country, grow a garden and the list goes on.  He also had the unique gift in dealing with people.  He could bring peace to a grieving heart, give hope to the down and out.  He was an avid reader and accomplished published author.

Buck enlisted in the army after graduating from Sweetgrass High School, Big Timber, Montana. He served with Co E 407th Infantry Regiment/ 102th Infantry Division/ Attached to the 9th Army. His basic training was at Ft. Benning, GA. He took classes at Purdue University, and basic engineering at Camp Swift, Texas.  His unit was sent overseas, landing in Cherborg, France. The unit moved to the front inside the German border. He was wounded in action during the battle for Flossdorf. He was awarded the Purple Heart and other medals for his service.  He had a passion for sharing his story and was given the opportunity to share his experiences with Ms. Speegle’s high school classes.

After the war, Buck went back to his mountain home and worked on the ranch and helped his father run the sawmill at Ward and Parker.  He married his sweetheart, Norma Jean Knapp Ward in 1945 and they lived in the Crazy Mountains until his move south.

In 1955, after accepting the call to the ministry, he loaded up his family and moved to Georgia where he went to school while working a full time job and raising a family.  He received his Degree of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University and also received a degree in history from Georgia State University.  He pastored various churches in the North Georgia Methodist Conference: Williamson, Hollanville and Concord circuit; Bethesda Methodist in Hartwell, Boggs Chapel in Athens; Winterville Methodist; Rock Spring Methodist; Bethlehem Methodist; Gracewood Methodist in Augusta; Jones Chapel at Madras (Newnan).  He retired from preaching in 1990 and moved to LaFayette, GA where he took the LaFayette Circuit serving Mt. Carmel, Wesley Chapel and Trinity Churches. 

Buck left this earthly life at his home on April 21 at 92 years of age.  He was preceded in death by his bride of 60 years, Jean Knapp Ward; his parents Robert C Ward and Anita Brannin Ward and his brother John C. (Jack) Ward.  He leaves his children Lynn Ward, David (Sharon) Ward, Gary (Judy) Ward, Bee (Angela) Ward, Margaret (Hank) House and Sheri (Jeff) Aldridge to celebrate his home-going. He also leaves 26 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild; sisters Ellen Bertoliatti, Barbara (Ralph) Cosgriff, Mary Jane (Gary) Andrews; many other family members and friends.

Words could never express thanks for the gift and influence that we have been awarded through the life of Robert “Buck” Ward. He was kind, loving and gracious.  We will miss you, our little “Man of the Mountains” but we will meet you on the mountain.

If you have something to share about Buck, we will be collecting your printed stories at the funeral home or e-mail manofthecrazymountains@gmail.com.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Crazy Mountain Museum, 2 South Frontage Rd, Big Timber, Montana, 59011. 

Visitation at Wallis-Wilbanks Funeral Home 5 – 9 p.m., Wednesday, April 25; Funeral Service 11 a.m., Thursday, April 26 at First Baptist Church, LaFayette, GA. Interment will follow in LaFayette Memory Gardens.

Category: