Remembering Pam Ward. Sunday January 8th, 2017

Pam was born in North Platte Nebraska on October 22nd, 1947, followed three and a half years later by her dear sister Cynthia. The family moved from Nebraska to New Mexico to Southern California before settling in the Bay Area (Move’s were due to Dad’s promotions within Chrysler).

Pam attended Cupertino High School and spent her senior year as an exchange student in Sao Paulo Brazil. When she returned she enrolled at San Jose State.

Pam attended San Jose State from 1966 to 1969 and began to date Joe after a mutual friend re-introduced them.  Pam and Joe had met in high school when they were members of the Methodist Church Youth Fellowship Group.

On a rainy Saturday night on September 6, 1969 Pam and Joe were married in the San Jose State Chapel.  Family and friends attended but most people did not think that the marriage would last more than a couple of years.  Pam and Joe were married for 47 years but were together more than 50 years.

The couple honeymooned in San Francisco and watched the stage play “Hair”.  It was a one day honeymoon because Joe had to start his first teaching job the next day at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara.

Pam continued to work as a pre-school teacher and Joe taught high school English.  Around 1973 Pam and Joe were able to buy their first house in Santa Clara with the help of family and friends.  To make ends meet Pam opened a day care in their home and worked in home day care for a number of years.

It was during this time that Pam and Joe became foster parents to 4 children that Pam got to know during the time she was a pre school teacher.  The mother of these kids was having a hard time and Pam wanted to give them a place to live while the mother was recovering from her illness.

In the Spring of 1976 Pam worked on promoting Proposition 15 which would ban the building of any new nuclear power plants in California and put additional safety requirements on operating nuclear reactors.  Pam, Joe and some friends sold house plants in street corners on the weekends to raise money to help pass this initiative.  The initiative failed in the election but a result of this failure was that the State of California legislature passed a moratorium on further nuclear development.

Pam’s uncle worked for the Nuclear Regulatory Agency in Washington, DC at that time and he did not understand why Pam was opposed to nuclear power plants in California.

During her time at San Jose State Pam participated in the demonstrations against Dow Chemical company that was recruiting on the San Jose State campus.  This was happening during the Vietnam War and Dow Chemical was producing chemicals like Agent Orange that was being used in the war.

It was in the 1970’s that Pam and Joe began their 4-year involvement with the Creative Initiative Foundation.  The Creative Initiative Foundation of the 1970s was a diverse community of people dedicated to bringing about the cooperation of the races, the religions, and the nations for the well-being of all humankind. Mostly in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, families and individual participants were also across the U.S. and in Canada.

CIF promoted the idea of “One Earth, One Humanity, One Spirit”.

Joe attributes their time in CIF as being the main reason they stayed together more than 50 years.  They learned in CIF that it wasn’t about “ME”.  It is about “US”.

Creative Initiative Foundation became the “Beyond War” movements of the 1980’s.

It was during this time that Pam went back to college to finish her degree in Marketing Communications and graduated from USF in the 1980’s.  Her time at USF was very helpful as Pam and Joe started new companies that benefited from Pam’s ability to market and promote new product ideas.

During the 1980’s Pam and Joe started Microcomputer Index and the Library Software Company.  Microcomputer Index was the first online database available worldwide to index and abstract the exploding information about small personal computers.  This was done at a time before Google which began as a research project in 1996 at Stanford.

The Library Software Company was started in 1984 and was sold to the Follett Corporation in 1985.  This company focused on bringing affordable computer technology to the automation of small libraries.  At the time Joe and Pam left Follett Software in 1995 more than 30,000 small libraries had been automated.  Today more than 50,000 automated small libraries use Follett Software.  Pam was responsible for creating the marketing collateral used to promote this software.

In 1987 Pam and Joe traveled to Brazil to complete the adoption of two sisters, Jannea and Simone.  Pam had been an exchange student in Brazil in 1965 and very much wanted to adopt and raise children from Brazil.  It was also at this time that Pam and Joe adopted their son, Andrew, from El Salvador. In a little over a month Pam and Joe went from no children to three children.

This adoption experience was so meaningful for Pam that she started doing volunteer work at Bay Area Adoption Services which was the agency they used to arrange for the adoption of Jannea, Simone and Andrew.  Out of this volunteer work and dedication to the international adoption process, Pam was asked to become the Executive Director of BAAS.  For several years Pam ran BAAS and travelled to Latin American to facilitate adoptions. During her tenure many BAAS families were able to adopt children.

In 1991, Pam and Joe moved to Santa Rosa due to Joe’s job requirements. Pam did some consulting work with North Bay Adoptions and settled in to raising their children.

During this time Pam and Joe home schooled their kids and eventually enrolled their children at Willow Wood Waldorf School in Sebastopol.  Many friendships came out of the time the kids were at Willow Wood. Pam eventually became a school board member.

It was during this time that it was a daily ritual for the kids to be driven to school from Santa Rosa and always before the kids got out of the car they were reminded about The Most Important Thing: “Your Family Always Loves You”.  Family was very important to Pam and “The Most Important Thing” was emphasized each and every day.

After the children graduated high school and left home Pam became the Administrative Consultant for RECAMFT.  Pam enjoyed the many friends she made at RECAMFT and looked forward to attend the general meetings and board meetings.

6 thoughts on “

  1. Meeghan Vermeulen

    Dear Ward Family and Cynthia, Thank you so much for creating such a beautiful tribute to Pam for us all to see. Unfortunately, we were unable to make the celebration of life yesterday due to illness but we have been thinking about you all during this time of healing. We loved Pam and will always remember her graciousness, boundless love and support. Now, we can all continue living by her example of generousity and unconditional love for the rest of our time on this Earth.

  2. Alison McDonald

    I want to let the Ward family know that Pam was critical in the adoption of our daughter from BASS back in the late 1980’s. She worked with us with such incredible generosity and warmth. She explained everything and made us feel that everything would work out. (Which it did!). She was such a gem. We will never forget her and we wanted to send our sympathy to her family because we know that losing her is a tremendous loss. We are so sorry. Please know that Pam touched many lives in such a positive way.

  3. Janet Shirley

    Dear Joe, Cynthia and the entire Ward Family,

    We were very said to hear of Pam’s passing and wish we could have been at the memorial, but we were out of the country at the time.

    Pam was a marvelous, incredible human being! And her actions will never end–what she put in motion to help others and humanity in general will continue to affect others without end. We were so fortunate to have come to know her and thanks to Pam, I have been serving children for more than 25 years. That is quite a gift.

    with warm regards and in loving memory, Janet Shirley and Ken Dickinson and Miguel

  4. Sandra Martyn

    Dear Ward Family, I wanted you to know that without Pam’s generous spirit and open heart I would not have been able to adopt our daughter. I was so afraid and overwhelmed at the daunting process of international adoption. It was because of her confidence that I had the courage to put one foot in front of the other. Her beautiful smile always greeted me whenever I walked through the doors of BAAS and made me feel calm. I can not imagine my life without our daughter and will be forever grateful for her acceptance, guidance and support. I wish you well and hope loving memories are sustaining you at this most painful of times.

  5. Melba~

    Pam, I didn’t know how much I loved you until you were gone. I am just now able to view the wonderful tribute that Joe put together in your memory. Isaac and I miss you so much. We had so many heartfelt and meaningful conversations. Isaac enjoyed and grew so much from the time the two of you spent reading, telling stories and being together. I will keep your family in my prayers. M~

  6. Anita R. Caudillo

    I was one of the children who were in the care of Pam and Joe. I didn’t realize how much they must have sacrificed for us until much later in life when I discovered how young they were when they took in me and my brother and two sisters. I was in the third grade. That must have put a tremendous strain on them although it never showed. At a time when “Star wars” came out and “The Bee Gees” and “Crystal Gayle” was playing on the radio. And Pam was singing along to “Don’t it make my brown eyes blue”. I’ll always remember the loving way Joe helped us and went above and beyond in every homework project even making trips to the hobby store it became a heirlooms instead of homework. They gave me the best birthday and Christmas anyone could ever have. They taught us so many lifelong valuable lessons. How to be assertive, persevere and studious. I loved hearing so many stories of her growing up and meeting all her family. Also how to speak pig latin which we still do today. We all get a kick out of it. These same stories and traditions I share with my kids and grand kids. So they will know the great people I am so thankful that God put in my life , without them I wouldn’t have known what a normal life could be like. I’ll always remember like it was yesterday; how she made our meals with such thought and care, her bright smile, laughter, and all the encouragement and support that she gave. They are both such a wonderful pair. They are both truly one of a kind. They will stay part of us forever.


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