Ward received handwritten obit for son during Vietnam

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Wendy Ward, a retired minister who served in Barnesville and who now lives on the east coast, was a summer intern at the Fargo Forum in 1969. She spent a week on the obituary desk when the regular employee was on vacation.

“Most everything came in over the phone, and of course I had to make sure that all the names of all the survivors (let alone the deceased) and their hometowns were spelled correctly,” said Ward, then a student at Concordia College in Moorhead.

“The most difficult obituary to write was one that a tired and sad-looking woman brought into the office, with information handwritten on a piece of paper, and asking what the charge would be.”

She was from a small town outside of Fargo and the obituary was for her son, who had been killed in Vietnam.

“There I was, about the same age as that young man, and at a loss for what to say to this grieving woman,” Ward recalled, “except to assure her that there would be no charge and that we would make sure her son’s obituary was in the paper.”

She added, “Yes, there I was, a shy 20-year-old trying to be professional but stunned by this unexpected face-to-face with grief. After all these years, I still get choked up when I think about that encounter.”