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David Boyd Ward, Jr., of Essex, passed away at his home on Sept. 4, the day after his 73rd birthday. David was born in Middletown on Sept. 3, 1947, and was raised in Little Silver, New Jersey, through age 9, settling in Westbrook shortly after his father died in 1956.
He graduated from Westbrook High School and from the University of Connecticut, where he met the love of his life, Linda Diane Kuenkler, from Newington, freshman year. David and Linda were married after graduation on June 7, 1969, and briefly lived in Hartford until moving to Essex in 1971. An enthusiastic English major at UConn, David initially worked as a policy writer at Aetna for four years until he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a woodcarver, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Ted Mulliken, who began Old Saybrook’s Wildfowler Decoy Company in 1939.
David became an accomplished decoy carver in his own right and was featured in numerous publications. His uniquely simple style of sweeping lines and tonal finishes made his decoys sought after by collectors worldwide. His work may be seen locally at The Connecticut River Museum in Essex. All who knew David knew that he lived a “life of precision,” focusing on doing what he loved, being where he loved, and doing these things with whom he loved.
David and Linda were co-owners of the Red Balloon on Main Street, and he was proud of the restoration work he did at Hastings House. Bird watching, collecting antiques, sailing, playing music, as well as reading and collecting books enriched his life every day. David took a break from carving decoys in the late 1980s and turned his attention to fine art. A dedicated student of Impressionism, stirred especially by the work of the artists from the Old Lyme art colony, David began his journey en plein air oil painting, later working with the Lyme Art Association curating and hanging shows. In addition to his talents as a decoy carver, David became a gifted Impressionist painter and continued painting up until his death.
The large body of work he leaves behind is a testament to his passions and unique life. He was a man of many talents, appreciated by and inspiring to those who knew and loved him. David Ward was predeceased by his beloved wife of 49 years, Linda Kuenkler Ward who died in 2018; by his father, David Boyd Ward, Sr.; his mother Jean Soper Ward Lee; and his stepfather Richard (Dick) Harding Lee, Sr. He is survived by his son Justin Brant Ward and two grandsons, Race and Marston Ward of Alameda, California; his brother Hunter Ward, Sr., and his wife Cheryl Weaver Ward of Lyme; sister J. Penelope Ward Smyth and her husband Paul J. Smyth of Lyme; and brother Richard H. Lee, Jr., and his wife Heidi Booth Lee of Deep River. David is also survived by his niece Kim Ward of Cornelius, North Carolina; and nephews Hunter Ward, Jr., (Christina) of Old Lyme, Austin Ward Dienst (Meghan) of Seattle, Richard Newton Lee (Samantha) of Dudley, Massachusetts, Seth Joseph Lee (Kimberlee) of Lyme, and Nolan Ward Smyth of Santa Cruz, California. He will also be missed by his Soper cousins in the South.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a memorial will be held for the family. A donation to The Essex Library Association, 33 West Ave., Essex, CT 06426, is suggested in lieu of flowers. To share a memory of David or send a condolence to his family, please visit www.rwwfh.com Arrangements by the Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home in Centerbrook.