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Farragut mourns longtime teacher Ward

The Rev. Richard Hobbs, pastor at Community Bible Church in Choto, would have become Richard Hobbs, Farragut High School dropout, without one FHS teacher making a huge impact.

Kenneth R. Ward.

“I never would have graduated if it hadn’t been for him spending time with me and caring about me,” Hobbs said about Kenneth, a beloved, distinguished and award-winning science, chemistry and physics teacher at FHS for 34 years who died Saturday, Oct. 1. He was 82.

“I’d never be today what I am today had it not been for people like Mr. Ward ... spending time and helping and even staying late,” added Hobbs, a 1964 FHS graduate.

“He’s just a great man.”

Hobbs, who officiated at a graveside service Monday, Oct. 3, at Woodlawn Baptist Church Cemetery in Lenoir City, said Kenneth “had literally thousands of students, and all of them thought so much of him. He made an impact on so many individuals’ lives, as he did my life. ... Multitudes of students were there today.”

“So many individuals that he had in school, they went into professions because of him.”

Doug Horne, a former student (FHS Class of 1963) now an area real estate mogul and owner of farragutpress, also emphasized Kenneth’s enormous impact.

“The legacy he left shaped the schools, students’ lives and the world,” said Horne, who spoke during the service. “He had a lot of students who went on for great achievements: teachers and scientists and other contributors in life.”

During a 38-year teaching career that also included work at K-25 lab in Oak Ridge, Kenneth received the Distinguished Teacher Award from Tennessee Academy of Science. Tennessee State House of Representatives honored Kenneth with a resolution for his dedication to education.

Kenneth and his wife of 44 years who survives him, Estelle — also a teacher — were honored in January 2010 for 76 combined years of teaching, as the school established the Kenneth R. Ward FHS Chair of Excellence Award in Science Education.

“That’s the first chair of excellence Farragut High School has done,” Hobbs said. “They couldn’t have picked a better individual other than Mr. Ward. He and Estelle are wonderful people.”

Michael Reynolds, FHS principal, said this annual award — given each school year to a distinguished teacher in Farragut’s science academy — reflects Kenneth’s character and influence on the department.

“It’s a special award recognizing someone that they gave everything to their discipline and education,” Reynolds said of honorees, who assume the role of research director assisting students’ research working with ORNL and The University of Tennessee. “It’s fitting that it be named after someone like Mr. Ward.”

Horne, whose sisters, Margaret and Rosemary, also were taught by Kenneth, recalled specific lessons learned in his mentor’s chemistry and physics classes.

“He trained us and led us into being able to overcome obstacles and problems in order to make it into life,” Horne said. “We learned preparation, discipline, perseverance and excellence, that’s what he taught. He pushed you extremely hard, but he pushed you to excellence. He was well-prepared and organized, and detailed and thorough in his classes.”

Kenneth is a descendant of Jason Matlock, one of the first families of Tennessee, and belonged to First Families of Tennessee.

A 1951 graduate of The University of Tennessee with a master’s degree in education, Kenneth also taught at the former Morristown High School, Nichols Elementary School and Fulton High School.

Graveside service was Monday, Oct. 3, at Woodlawn Baptist Church Cemetery, Lenoir City, with the Rev. Richard Hobbs officiating.


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