Obituary Listings

Marguerite Hartsell Ward

February 15, 1921 May 20, 2018
Marguerite  Hartsell  Ward
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Obituary for Marguerite Hartsell Ward

Marguerite Hartsell Ward, age 97, died on May 20, 2018. She was born February 15, 1921 in Big Lick, NC to Rev. Pruett P. and Gladys Morgan Hartsell. She was the child of a Southern Baptist minister and of the Depression Era. She knew hardship and meager circumstances and it shaped the rest of her life. But God blessed her when her father was called to become pastor at Lakewood Baptist Church in Durham. Her family moved to Durham in the 1930s and Marguerite set permanent roots and flourished.

At Lakewood Baptist Church she met the family of Franklin A. and Effie Rigsbee Ward, founding members of the church and more importantly, one of their sons, Philip M. Ward. After graduating from Durham High School in 1939 she married the “love of her life” when Marguerite and Philip eloped on Dec. 29, 1939. Marguerite always said she thought she had won a first place prize she didn’t deserve. Those that knew Philip well were certain it was the other way around.

Marguerite and Philip decided their spiritual growth would be better served by establishing their own identity at a new church and moved their membership to Temple Baptist Church. There they dedicated their lives to Christ and worked tirelessly and gave generously in support of their church family and Temple’s mission.

Both Philip and Marguerite worked at American Tobacco Co. until Philip left to serve in the Army in WWII. Marguerite continued working there during the war and until she became pregnant with her first child in 1951. In 1948, Philip and his brother Foye Ward opened Ward Furniture Co. in downtown Durham on Chapel Hill Street. Philip worked there until he died in a private airplane crash on May 18, 1974.

Widowed at age 53, Marguerite was devastated by her unimaginable loss. But God had seen fit to bless her with an unexpected child late in life; she had a 10 year old son at home. So like all the women of her generation she cried privately and publicly showed her resolve. She moved forward one day at a time because her young son needed her.

Marguerite’s life changed dramatically over the next 30 years. She was very active in many community service organizations: League of Women Voters, Crisis Hotline, and the Durham Republican Party. She was a delegate to the Southern Baptist Convention. She volunteered at the gift shop at Duke Hospital for 15 years. Started a career in real estate where she really liked working with buyers because she enjoyed meeting and helping newcomers to the community. For many years she rented out a bedroom in her home to Duke Medical students during their residency. Marguerite found great joy participating in the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement (DILR). There she took courses in subjects which broadened her horizons and she made many new friends. It also led to her traveling extensively, to elder hostels overseas, in groups, with a friend and she even traveled alone. After taking a computer course at DILR and though she was well into her 70s, Marguerite became very computer savvy. She used to say the computer was her new best friend. She could ask it anything and most likely it had the right answer.

It has been said that Marguerite never met a stranger. If you were a visitor to church she would find you, introduce herself and invite you to lunch. If you found yourself seated beside her on an airplane you ended up exchanging addresses and promising to visit, a promise she often kept. Residents and staff at The Forest at Duke, her place of residence the last 12 years, all knew her as the Welcome Lady. In her final days several staff members remarked to her family that she was the kindest lady they ever met. She treated everybody the same.

Marguerite is best remembered by those that knew her as the friend who was always there for them. Often times, one didn’t even have to ask her for help. She just showed up because she saw where she was needed. She was a good wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, friend, mentor and role model.

Marguerite is the last of her generation of family to pass away. She outlived her brother, sister, husband, brother and sister in-laws and most of her lifelong friends. She is survived by too many loving nephews and nieces to list.

Marguerite is survived by three sons and spouses, Philip (Karen) Ward, Jr., Kim (Emily) Ward and Jon (Dawn) Ward and two grandchildren, Kelly Ward and Mason Ward. They will miss her greatly.

Marguerite said her good fortune in life had nothing to do with good luck but rather God had blessed her. Yes he did. After 97 years of service she was called home when God saw there nothing more she was able to do. And she left with no regrets.

A celebration of the life of Marguerite Ward will be held at The Forest at Duke Auditorium, 2701 Pickett Rd., Durham, NC 2 7705, on Friday, May 25th at 1 p.m. with Dr. Clay Warf and Dr. Robert Bailey officiating. There will be a reception at The Forest at Duke immediately following the service. A family graveside service will be held on Friday, May 25th at 11 a.m. at Maplewood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to Temple Baptist Church, 2121 Umstead Rd., Durham, NC, 27712, or the ACE Tutoring Program, Union Baptist Church, 904 N. Roxboro St., Durham, NC 27701.

The family is being assisted by Clements Funeral Service, Inc. in Durham. Send condolences online to

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Previous Events

Celebration of Life




1:00 PM 5/25/2018 1:00:00 PM
The Forest at Duke

2701 Pickett Road
Durham, NC 27705

Reception to follow service

The Forest at Duke
2701 Pickett Road Durham 27705 NC
United States

Cemetery Details


Maplewood Cemetery Final Resting Place

1621 Duke University Road
Durham, NC 27701

1621 Duke University Road Durham 27701 NC
United States

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