Michael Royce Ward, 62, an insurance industry leader for over 35 years, died May 28 from cancer at his home in Alexandria. He was born in Washington, D.C. to Mr. & Mrs. Royce F. Ward on Nov. 11, 1945, raised in Alexandria, and was currently splitting time between Alexandria and Corolla, N.C.
After graduating from Bullis High School in Potomac, Md., Mr. Ward attended Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio where he joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, gained membership in national honor society Omicron Delta Kappa, and was elected student body president his senior year. Also a talented musician, he co-founded the folk group "The Shadtown Trio Plus One," appearing on national radio programs such as Voice of America.
After college, Mr. Ward married the former Margaret "Peggy" Ames of Massapequa, N.Y. and settled back in his hometown of Alexandria. He worked for insurance administrator Wright & Co. until 1981, when he founded his own company, MRW Holdings, Inc., specializing in insurance product development. Over the next few years, MRW acted as the broker and administrator for several federal government employee insurance programs, including the Special Agents Mutual Benefits Association originally founded by J. Edgar Hoover.
In the late 80s, Mr. Ward expanded MRW into property development and management in the Northern Outer Banks area of North Carolina, an area which he moved to in 2003 after 57 years as an Alexandria resident.
In 1991, Mr. Ward invented one of the first paid-up models for long term care insurance which paved the way for one of the most successful direct mail long term care programs in the country. In the mid 90s, he was made an honorary member of the Society of Actuaries due to his product development skills.
In 1999, he was instrumental in the formation of Worldwide Benefit Services, a company that created and marketed assistance service programs for insurance carriers and affinity groups. At the time of his death, Mr. Ward was busy working on one of his latest product creations, ID Theft Assist, a program introduced in 2004 that assists victims of identity theft. At the time of his death, he had helped make ID Theft Assist the largest direct to consumer ID theft restoration product on the market.
Two months prior to his death, he had just completed a one year term as president of the American Institute of Professional Affinity Group Insurance Administrators (AIPAGIA), an exclusive national association of third-party insurance administrators.
Throughout his career, he always found time for other pursuits, especially his continuing love of music and performing, including an appearance with the Lettermen on the Kennedy Center stage. Mr. Ward also played a key role in the fundraising and construction of the sports gymnasium at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Alexandria—a school he attended as well as his three children. He was a member of Belle Haven County Club in Alexandria and the Currituck Club in Corolla, N.C. where he spent two years as Board President for the Homeowner’s Association staring in 2006.
Mr. Ward is survived by his loving wife of 40 years Peggy; son Chris Ward and daughter-in-law Lisa of Boonton, N.J.; daughter Stephanie Scheel and son-in-law Dan of Falls Church; daughter Melissa Gardiner and son-in-law Mike of Charlottesville; and five grandchildren Colin Royce, Molly Elisabeth, Dylan Richard, Margaret Mackenzie, and Madeline Ames.
The family asks in lieu of flowers that contributions be made to: Georgetown University Hospital Lombardi Cancer Center, Cancer Research, 3800 Reservoir Rd., NW, Washington, DC 20057: or, The Johnstone Education Foundation, c/o AIPAGIA, 4248 Park Glen Road, Minneapolis, MN 55416: or Dare Hospice Inc., 109 Exeter Street, PO Box 1000, Manteo, NC 27954.