In Memory of



Obituary for Hunter Ward

Hunter Pearce Ward, 15. of Leavenworth, passed away Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. He was born April 11, 2007, in Overland Park, Kan., to Shawn Ward and Claire (DuMortier) Ward.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, at Saint Paul Lutheran Church. A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, at the church. Inurnment will follow at Mount Muncie Cemetery.
He is survived by his parents; his sister, Hillary-Claire Ward; paternal grandparents, Gene and Carol Ward; maternal grandparents, Elizabeth and Cedric Devin and Thomas DuMortier; three aunts, Charlie (Danny) Herman, Danielle DuMortier (John Clark) and Stacey Ward; uncle, Tad DuMortier; four cousins, Isabelle Wetzel, Gabriella Clark, John Clark III and Melanie Clark.
Hunter loved the outdoors. He spent much of his free time at his grandparents, Gene and Carol Ward’s farm, where he would go exploring their pastures on his four-wheeler that Gene surprised him with. He was an avid hunter and had just bagged his first buck. He was so proud of that buck and was able to track it down, carry it over a fence, across a pasture and dressed it all by himself. Hunter started out learning how to clean fish, squirrels and duck’s from his Grandpa Gene. He was also obsessed with fishing and was so proud of the treehouse he built near Gene and Carol’s pond. He spent countless hours there with his best friend Zach, sister Hillary and cousin Izzy. It was ‘Hunter’s Hollow’.
Playing cards and putting together puzzles was a favorite pastime Hunter shared with Grandma Carol. Grandpa Gene was Hunter’s closest companion. He loved helping Gene and Carol on the farm. No matter what the job was, Hunter was always quick to jump in and help. Carol loved watching Hunter help Gene around the farm from her kitchen window. When Hunter was young he loved riding around on Gene‘s tractor and was eventually the one driving.
It wasn’t his second home, he simply had two homes.
Ced and Liz Devin were Poppa & Nanna to Hunter. Nanna stayed to help for 6 weeks when Hunter was born. An unprecedented number of pictures were taken as the bond they formed began. Nanna was always anxious to attend his school programs, class parties, school field trips, pumpkin patches, zoo’s, parades and go as a family to the annual Kaw Valley Farm tour.
Nanna and Poppa attended every wrestling tournament they could. Seeing Hunter cruise around the gyms, stopping every few feet to interact with his peers and supporting his teammates was amazing. Wrestling was teaching him sportsmanship, honor and dedication to training and his teammates. His passion for wrestling made him the happiest and most confident they had ever seen. He was a powerful wrestler and dominated the mat his first and only season. Those wrestling meets allowed Nanna and Poppa to be bursting with pride watching him go from an awkward pre-teen to a confident, strong man.
Nanna loved teaching Hunter how to cook. They made everything from s’mores in their fireplace to homemade marshmallows, Brie en Cruet, cookies and gingerbread houses. Nanna & Poppa bought Claire a BBQ grill for her birthday one year so Hunter could help by procuring and cooking the game he routinely brought home. Nanna also took the 2-day Hunter safety course with Hunter after months of studying together to pass the online course that kept getting postponed due to Covid. She was delighted to learn as much about the subject matter from Hunter as she did from the course. They both passed with perfect scores of 100%.
Hunter surprised his mother when she learned that he had found a dirt bike, negotiated the price down and arranged for his Poppa to transport it to his house. They were both excited to work together to modify and embellish it. One of Papa‘s favorite memories was taking Hunter out on his boat and letting Hunter drive. He could barely see over the dash but thought he was king of the lake. Hunter loved tubing behind Poppa’s boat. No matter how hard he tried, Papa could not knock him off the tube. He loved meeting his papa at Uncle Joe’s house to go swimming and target practice. The three of them would spend countless hours talking about all things related to fishing and hunting. He would reach out to his uncle Joe and Papa Ced routinely for advice. Papa’s favorite fishing trip with Hunter was at his friend Steve’s pond that had been stocked but not fished for many years. Hunter brought in an amazing number of exceptionally large fish that weekend and he was just beaming with joy. He will be deeply missed and loved eternally.
Hunter’s Grandfather Tom DuMortier always loved his spiritual conversations with Hunter and discussing the questions he had concerning God and religion. Tom enjoyed sharing his snakes and reptiles with Hunter while teaching him about them, but most of all teaching him what unconditional love means.
Tom’s son Tad was Uncle to Hunter. Tad is only a few years older than Hunter; that fact, coupled with Tad’s sweet nature, caused Hunter to be drawn to and look up to Tad. Hunter would get so excited when Tad would join in on the fun. They shared many experiences like swimming, boating, the Kaw Valley Farm Tour, and spending the night at Danny and Charlie’s house.
Aunt Stacey’s fondest memory of Hunter was when he was little and they would spend summers together. She was privileged to take him to swimming lessons or soccer practice. They would go to DQ afterwards because he wanted his ice cream cone. As he got older, her fondest memories were on 4th of July. He always came over and shot her fireworks off for her. Her daughter Izzy would tell everyone that Hunter was her big brother. Stacey would have to explain they are cousins. Looking back, Hunter was the best big brother Izzy could ever ask for. He was so gentle and protective of her. He no doubt will continue to protect her. Stacey‘s heart would melt every time Izzy would hear the four wheeler start up and she would run to the pasture gate to hitch a ride with him.
Uncle Danny and Aunt Charlie had a special bond with Hunter. Hunter, Hillary, and Claire spent countless weekends at their house. Some of their fondest memories include slumber parties with friends, trips to Schlitterbahn, Annual Kaw Valley Farm Tour weekends, parades, going to Hunter’s various sporting events, trips to Science City, setting off fireworks, and the mundane daily conversations like if Adam Sandler was the greatest actor of all time (Hunter argued that he was). They were also just a phone call away, and Hunter respectfully would call for advice often and at all sorts of hours. In recent years, Danny would provide Hunter with commercial grade fireworks for the 4th of July and taught him how to safely use them. Danny was so patient, trusting and knowledgeable, Hunter was able to put on a stellar fireworks display for our family, that rivaled any professional 4th of July display. He was so patriotic that his teacher once told Claire that Hunter was the only child in the classroom who stood up and put his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, every day.
Danielle lived with and cared for Hunter the first three years of his life. He could distinguish Daniel‘s voice the second he was born. She taught him sign language as an infant and would talk with him like no one else could. Once his Mom, Nanna and Aunt Charlie tried & tried to get him to smile, to no avail. Danielle arrived and the second he heard her voice, his little arms and legs flailed so hard he nearly squirmed out of his car seat. The smile he wore, just for his Aunt Dannie, was epic. As a baby and a toddler Danielle fondly remembers how he was so cuddly and just wanted to hug everybody all the time.
He had a little dump truck and loader that he used to pick up toys and haul them around the house. He would sometimes climb in the back of his truck and have Aunt Danielle push him around the house. He used to have a gliding floor rocker that he and his baby buddy, Jeffery, would climb into together and play in a space intended for one.
Some of Danielle’s favorite memories was when he would come over and dress up in a Spider-Man costume or Hulk costume with giant Hulk gloves and run around the house saying, “HULK SMASH”! She enjoyed interacting in nerf gun wars with his cousins Gabby, Melanie and John.
In recent years, family would gather at Uncle Joe’s pool to swim and play 500. It was never a fair game if he was playing because he always dominated and got the ball, scoring 500 points first - when he wasn’t working on his tan for the girls, that is. His Cousin Gabby enjoyed spending the night at Aunt Charlie‘s with Hunter and Hillary. They play hide and seek in the dark and they couldn’t find Hunter because he was such a good hider. He would climb trees and patiently wait. Danielle cannot stop thinking about the way he used to say her name as a toddler and a young kid. She just loved it.
Hunter was his Sister Hillary’s best friend. Thru the good and bad they were always there for each other, no matter what. He was the best brother ever. She loved riding their four wheelers and exploring in the pasture, driving around in his car, and most of all just spending time with him. She loved to go to his wrestling matches and cheer for him, she never missed any. Hunter was the best protector a sister could ask for. She will forever be his ‘Little Sis’ and he will forever be her ‘Big Bro’.
Hunter’s Father Shawn’s parting words to him: Since the day I found out I was having a son I was so excited. Being able to watch you grow up and see all of the accomplishments you made was truly an honor. For the last 15 years I’ve been teaching you all about the construction industry, in the hopes that someday, my son, you would take over my business.
We shared the same hobbies of loving the outdoor‘s, everything from hunting, fishing, canoeing and wrestling. Some of the greatest moments in my life were going to the rodeo annually, concerts and MMA fights with you. I could not have asked for a better son. I am so proud of you, not only are you my ‘Mini Me’, you are also my ‘sidekick’. You and your sister complete me and the two of you are my greatest accomplishments.
Hunter’s Mother Claire’s tribute to her only son: What words can express a mother‘s love for her son? The day you made me a mother, instantly change my life forever. I never knew I could love someone so much and my love was instant. I was blessed to only work a few days a week for the first few years of your life. My time with you was magical as I was able to devote all of my time and energy to ‘us’. As a toddler, you were the sweetest child a mother could ask for.
It didn’t take long for you to realize there were ponds in the pasture behind our house that were filled with frogs. Our days quickly became a routine of walking to the ‘frog pond’ while you chased frogs and explored nature. Later these trips turned into an obsession with picking up every stick and branch you could find and putting them in a pile for grandpa Gene to take away with his tractor.
Once you started school it was easy for you to make friends and it wasn’t long before you were asking to participate in sports. I let you try them all but it became very apparent that your passion was fishing, hunting and enjoying being outdoors, until eighth grade when you were introduced to wrestling and it became all you cared about. I got a kick of your new exercise regimen and how enthralled you were with it. Watching you participate in this sport was so fun because it was obvious how passionate you were about it. I was your biggest cheerleader and supporter in all that you did.
These last few years you took quite an interest in current events and it was awesome hearing your perspective on politics and world events, yet hard to realize that you were becoming a man. I learned more from you than you’ll ever know. and it kills me not to see what you would have blossomed into. My promise to you, my dear son, is to be the best person I can be, until we meet again. You will always be ‘My Love’.