Kent (Sandy) Kirkwood Ward, aged 71 of Buffalo, died October 14, 2018. After a valiant battle with cancer, he passed away peacefully at dawn, in his home, surrounded by his wife and beloved pets.
Sandy was born August 16, 1947 in Kansas City, Missouri, to Rueben and Grace Ward. Sandy and his older brother Scot grew up playing baseball with the neighborhood kids, riding bikes and camping. Sandy learned to respect hard work at an early age, whether it was mowing lawns, shoveling snow or even working on a farm planting and picking tomatoes. As a teenager, Sandy loved going to the local sock hops and drag racing. Sandy’s first vehicle was a 1937 Chevy (affectionately known as “the black turd”), which featured a detachable steering wheel and brakes that worked some of the time. Many “turd” stories are now family legend.
Sandy graduated from Shawnee Mission North high school in 1965. Despite being told by the principal that he would never amount to anything, Sandy attended Pittsburgh State College in Pittsburgh Kansas. Many good times were had, oftentimes involving his beloved 1957 Chevy and sometimes involving his pet alligator, Bill. Sandy graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. Shortly after he joined the army. He served in the 1st Air Calvary on the Cambodian border during the Vietnam War. Upon his return to the states, he married Karen Hogelund. Sandy worked as a financial analyst for Hallmark cards. Their son Shea was born in 1973, followed by daughter Melissa in 1975. During this time Sandy earned his MBA while working full time, raising a new family and taking care of his aging father.
Sandy loved western history and the mountains. That love led him to move the family to Big Horn, Wyoming in 1982. He worked for Nerco Mining Company. He taught computer classes at Sheridan College. He became the business manager for the Northern Wyoming Mental Health Centers. This led to his employment as computer controller for Johnson County Memorial hospital. Soon Sandy became the hospital administrator. He held this position from 1987 to April of 2017. Sandy took over in a time of turbulence. His leadership, innovation and hard work helped the hospital evolve into a strong community institution. Sandy had a “hands-on” approach to work. When staffing became a challenge in the nursing home, Sandy took a class to become a certified nursing assistant and would help with everything from feeding to personal care of residents. The hospital and its staff were family to him.
Sandy loved the mountains. So many of his days were spent hiking and searching for shed antlers with one of his collies by his side. Sandy also had a passion for cycling, joking that he was “a fat guy on a bike.” He loved to lie in the sun with his music playing, maps to read and a Coors Light by his side.
Sandy is survived by Karen, his wife of 47 years. He is also survived by his brother Scot (Barbara); son, Shea (Kathy); daughter, Melissa (Rob); two grandsons, Cooper and Hudson and three nieces and nephews. A true lover of animals, he is also survived by his dogs Mack and Bea and two cats, Snugs and Fannie. Sandy had so many dear friends in Buffalo. The love and support from his friends will always be appreciated by his family.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, November 3rd at the Bozeman Trail Steakhouse from 3-6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Johnson County Hospital general donation account.
Online condolences may be written at www.kanefuneral.com.
Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with local arrangements.