Dane Michael Ward, 62, peacefully passed away at home on July 5, 2020 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
Dane received a bachelor's degree at Indiana University and a master's degree at Florida State University, before traveling to Senegal, where he served in the Peace Corps for two years and met his wife, Jenny. His appreciation for others and willingness to share shined as he trained teachers, explored with his future wife, and absorbed the world around him. In the Peace Corps, he recognized the shared humanity of people across cultures and generations. This understanding of synergy over time and space is also present in Dane's appreciation for art and music, especially rock and folk bands with a tendency to improvise and riff off of each others' spontaneous creation. Dane would often play his trumpet with the sounds of his favorite musicians, imbibing in their shared spirit.
Upon returning home from the Peace Corps, Dane taught English and social studies before beginning a career as a librarian by earning his second master's degree through Indiana University. He was a librarian at Wayne State University, and Central Michigan University, then Associate Dean, later Dean of Milner Library at Illinois State University, where he earned his PhD. Dane used his position to encourage cross-campus collaboration, and to re-envision libraries as the hub of campus life and learning in a digital age. He advocated for information literacy; and giving students the tools they needed to ask new and engaging questions, thoroughly research, and draw conclusions. At home, Dane asked his own questions, explored his family's history, and traced the patterns, motivations, and hardships that led to his own life. He would excitedly share with his family about the latest discoveries and modern connections.
Dane became Professor and Dean of Libraries at Appalachian State University in 2017 and was, soon after, diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He served as an ALS Untangled Reviewer, ALS Research Ambassador, and encouraged collaboration in the search for a cure by writing articles for Inside Higher Ed and American Libraries while remaining Dean until late 2019. He will be remembered for his gentle and welcoming disposition along with his quirky sense of humor.
Dane is survived by his parents, Gerald "Jerry" and Carol Ward; wife of 32 years, Jenny Ward; sons, William Ward (Katherine) and Wesley Ward; sister, Stephanie McLean and numerous beloved nieces and nephews. Dane's family is deeply grateful to the many friends and family who have supported them throughout the journey especially: Dr. Richard Bedlack and the Duke ALS Clinic team; Todd Switzer, PA; Dr. Sheri Everts, and the Appalachian State University Community; and Medi Home and Hospice team. A virtual memorial service will be held at a date to be determined. Memorials may be made to the Dr. Dane Ward Endowed Honors Research Scholarship at give.appstate.edu/daneward or to the ALS Association of North Carolina.
Online condolences may be shared at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com
Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Ward family.