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Williamson County Teacher Honored After Unexpected Death--Mikayla Lewis

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FRANKLIN, Tenn.--Dale Ward passed away at his home on Tuesday, unexpectedly. The 64-year-old died of natural causes on National Hug Day. His wife says it was an appropriate day for his passing, because Ward was a kind, and giving man. Today, the community honored him with a celebration.

More than 900 Poplar Grove School students, wrote messages of love and support on a banner for Ward. The Franklin Special School District teacher was celebrated by more than 100 people on Saturday. Attendees danced and sang "When the Saints Come Marching In," in honor of the Louisiana native.

Ward's brother-in-law, Randy Frame said, "It took over two hours for people to just come through and speak to the family here. I think it was very gratifying for all of us to see just how many people's livesDale had impacted."

Ward's impact started in his home state, as a high school band director. He moved to Williamson County where he worked at Franklin Elementary in 2003. In August 2012, Ward joined his wife, Renee at Poplar Grove School. She was the media specialist, Dale Ward became the computer lab instructor. The couple was married for 39 years. They never had children of their own, but friends say anyone they met became family.

Frame added, " Their personalities worked well together and were very fortunate for the last years, to be able to work together in the same industry and even at the same school. Not everyone is that fortunate."

Ward volunteered and dedicated many hours to students, parents and faculty members. Former Poplar Grove School principal, Lee Kirkpatrick says Dale Ward is being remembered as a talented teacher who connected with students.

Kirkpatrick explained, "He used that gift to build them up. They might not be the strongest reader, but he convinced them that they could read and are  successful. "

On Friday, Poplar Grove honored Ward by wearing Louisiana sports memorabilia. The same theme carried through the celebration on Saturday.

Frame added, "We have to think God has a plan for us, and this is God's plan and we'll deal with it and he'll help us deal with it."

Memorials may be made to Poplar Grove Elementary Media Center, 2959 Del Rio Pike, Franklin, TN  37067.

Follow Mikayla Lewis on Twitter @MikaylaFox17.

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