A two-time Ponoka Stampede chuckwagon champion from the 1970s has died.
Ward Willard died Aug. 23 from an apparent heart attack at the age of 66. Willard was a second generation wagon man who started his career in 1971.
Over his 28-year career, Willard carved out an impressive record. He was the 1994 World Champion Chuckwagon Driver, and won 15 show championships in his illustrious career including all the major events of the day. He won the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby in 1995 and made two appearances in the derby’s winner-take-all championship final heat.
Among his many victories, some of Willard’s most prestigious wins included the Cheyenne Frontier Days three consecutive years from 1977-1979 and the Ponoka Stampede in back to back years in 1978 and 1979. He won the Battle of the Giants in 1981, twice won the Big M Stampede in Morris Manitoba in 1989 and 1993, the Klondike Chuckwagon Derby in Edmonton in 1995 and the Grande Prairie Stompede Championship in 1996. He did not compete between 1983 and 1988, and last competed as a chuckwagon driver at the Calgary Stampede in 1999.
In addition to being a top chuckwagon driver, Willard was also a top-notch thoroughbred horse trainer. His Whispering Winds stable has produced several champion racehorses.
Visit wpca.com or halfmileofhell.com for more information on the life and death of champion chuckwagon driver Ward Willard.
By Billy Melville