Joe Ward, a labor reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal, died Thursday at the age of 71 from multiple myeloma.
Andrew Wolfson of the Courier-Journal writes, “He joined The Courier-Journal in 1968 and over the years wrote hundreds of stories about strikes, burley prices and the never-ending search by farmers for a cash crop alternative to tobacco. He always tried to make them entertaining.
“In a 2000 article, he wrote, ‘An alpaca looks a bit like a sheep whose neck has been stretched and whose ancestors were maybe overly friendly with camels.’
“The next year, he began a story about vermiculture this way:
“‘Poet e.e. Cummings wrote about his Uncle Sol, a farmer who couldn’t make any money raising vegetables, chickens or skunks, so he drowned himself in a farm tank, went down in his coffin and started a worm farm. As tobacco allotments shrink and commodity prices drop,’ Ward’s story continued, ‘some Kentucky farmers are identifying with Uncle Sol more than they’d like to. Some are even starting worm farms, though not in their coffins.’
“Ward was assigned to the newspaper’s Bluegrass bureau in 1969 and rose to bureau chief, supervising five reporters.
“Retired former managing editor Stephen Ford said, ‘As a reporter, Joe was painstakingly accurate and scrupulously fair, and as a bureau chief, he was a generous and wise leader for less experienced journalists.'”
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