Stephen F. Austin State University

The doctor-pilot (December 2018)

The doctor-pilot

by Jonnie Miller

Dr. John W. Ward was fifty-nine years old when on November 20, 1991 he crashed his plane at the end of the runway at the Jasper airport. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma he was a respected doctor in Newton for fifteen years before he moved to Jasper. The flight that morning was to be to Springfield, Louisiana and the Human Hospital where he had patients. The doctor piloted a Beechcraft Bonanza and when he first took off, he had radio trouble and had to return to the airport. Thinking he had corrected the problem he took off again but could not get the altitude he needed to clear the trees at the end of the runway. He often made the trip to Louisiana as he had patients there and in Jasper and Newton. He had practiced medicine in several hospitals in Texas and Louisiana.

One of the best stories I've heard about Dr. Ward was from Terri Wood. She tells about a time in the early 1990s when she was a Newton cheerleader. After an Eagle game she was walking back to the gate when she fell and skinned her knee. She got up, went to the restroom and cleaned if off but, though it hurt, it did not seem to be anymore than a skinned knee. The knee continued to bother her and got no better over the next few days. By the time a couple of days had gone by she found it difficult to bear weight on it. Finally, her mother took her to Drs. Bussey and Ward. Dr. Bussey cleaned it and gave her antibiotics. Soon red streaks appeared and she got worse instead of better. She was forced to go back and could not even walk on it. It was obviously swollen so Dr. Bussey immediately sent her to the hospital. Dr. Ward operated on her knee and found a small pebble behind her kneecap and after three days she felt much better and was insisting on going home. Dr. Ward took her mother aside and told her that had to put Terri on a far stronger antibiotic for 24 hours and if she didn't respond he'd have to take her leg off. When Terri heard that she didn't argue again. She now credits Dr. Ward for saving her leg. She says he kept her spirits up throughout the ordeal with his great bedside manner and sense of humor.

Dr. Ward is gone now but is well remember, especially by his daughter, Anne Bean.