We've Always been

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sidebar

15
Fri, Nov

Tools
Typography

Milwaukee Irish Fest visionary leaves behind a lasting legacy after a long battle with cancer

CelticMKE, the organization behind Milwaukee Irish Fest, mournfully announces the passing of its visionary founder Edward Ward after a long battle with cancer. Ward passed away at home on Sunday, October 13, surrounded by his family.

What originated as the seed of an idea for a three-day event to celebrate Irish music and heritage in a city known for its German roots has emerged into a thriving year-round organization centered on the mission of preserving and promoting all things Irish in the Milwaukee area and beyond. For nearly four decades, Ward brought people together through music, art and community. Over the years, the festival grew to become the largest Irish festival in the world, with over 100 acts across 17 stages and more than 100,000 attendees.

In addition to Milwaukee Irish Fest, he also founded the John J. Ward Irish Music Archives in 1992 and the Milwaukee Irish Fest Foundation in 1994. He served as the executive director for the first 11 years, served as board president for four years, was a permanent member of the board, and led the festival entertainment committee as chairman.

Ward’s influence and legacy stretches far beyond the festival and its organization. He played a role in connecting with and supporting other Irish festivals across America as well as Irish musicians around the world. He established communications and fostered relationships to elevate Celtic culture with various entities in the U.S., Ireland, Canada and Scotland. He was a trailblazer whose ideas, advice, guidance and mentorship left an imprint on the Irish-American community. Ward has enriched so many lives and has been an infinite source of inspiration.

The staff, board members and volunteers at CelticMKE extend their condolences to the Ward family. "We have lost a true champion of Irish and Celtic music and culture. More importantly, we’ve lost a dear friend," said Linda Clark-Klibowitz, board president for CelticMKE. "His impact will be felt in the Celtic community around the world for decades to come. We offer our sincere condolences to Ed’s family and to all those who have been touched by his kindness over the years."

CelticMKE will honor his memory and his legacy by continuing to carry out his vision of promoting the Irish culture throughout the Midwest, about which he was so profoundly passionate. CelticMKE encourages friends and followers to send thoughts, memories and condolences to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ward is preceded in death by his son Brendan and his brother Chuck. He is remembered by his wife Cathy, sons Patrick, Sean (Melissa) and Conor, daughters Caitlin (Jimmy) and Kelly, granddaughter Moira, brother Jack (Margaret), sister Colleen Kennedy (Tom), and sister-in-law Cathy.

A visitation will be held at Becker Ritter Funeral Home (14075 W North Ave, Brookfield, Wisconsin) on Thursday, October 17 from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held at the Church of the Gesu (1145 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee) on Friday, October 18 at 10 a.m.

Donations are appreciated to the CelticMKE Tommy Makem Cultural Legacy Fund or the Irish Fest Talent Development Fund.

Due to a family allergy, please refrain from using Lily’s in any floral arrangements sent.

Full obituary can be found at Ed Ward’s CaringBridge profile website Here

Irish Shop

Subscribe to our Print Edition!

Select one

December Online Edition

Van Morrison Talks in Depth About New Album

We All Fall down

October Digitally Linked

Advertisers

Paying For
Instructions

Irish Book Club

Advertising Rates 2019

Shop Irish!

ARTIST
Liam Goarke
ASSISTED LIVING
Homecare Angels

ATTORNEY
Joyce Stevens
Murphy & Smith Ltd
Dwyer and Coogan
Healy Law

BAGPIPERS & DRUM CLASSES

Chicalba Bagpiping

BAKERY
Doughs Guys Bakery
BANKS

Marquette National Bank
BANQUETS
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
BEAUTY SALONS
Appearances Pk Ridge
 847-825-7615
Hair by O'Hara & Friends-Hometown
BOOKS - IRISH
TheIrishBookClub.com
BRICK REPAIR/REPLACEMENT
Shamrock Tuckpointing

CATERERS
Harrington's Catering & Deli
Unforgettable Edibles
CHARITABLE ORG

Mercy Home
IrishCommunityServicest
CAULKING & SEALING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
CHIMNEY REPAIR

Shamrock Tuckpointing

CHOIR
Irish Heritage Singers
COTTAGE RENTAL
Cottage Mary Rose
Dingle Cottage: 312-399-8793
Gurtenard Hse - Listowel Co Kerry
CRUISES

Andy Cooney
CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS

Chicago Gaelic Park

iBAM!
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Irish Am Society Co Will
Irish Heritage Singers
DANCE SCHOOLS

McNulty School of Dance
Trinity Irish Dance
ENTERTAINERS

Chicalba Bagpiping

Paddy Homan
The Larkin Brothers
Catherine O'Connell
Joe McShane
FESTIVALS

Arlington Heights
Dublin

IAHC
Indianapolis
Kansas City
Milwaukee
FINANCIAL PLANNER

Corrigan Financial
FLORIST

Garland Flowers
FUNERAL HOMES

Blake-Lamb

Gibbon's Funeral Homes
Roberty J Sheehy & Sons

GAELIC YOUTH FOOTBALL
773-719-2847 Jerry
GARBAGE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
GOLF COURSES
Palos Golf
GRAPHIC DESIGN

Laura Coyle 773-343-7268
GROCERIES/MEAT

O'Connor's Market

Winston's
HEARING SPECIALIST
Mel Dermody
HOTELS

The Irish Cottage 1 866 CU-IRISH
HUMAN RESOURCE CONSULTANT
James Fitzgerald
IMMIGRATION SERVICES

IrishCommunityServices
IMPORT SHOPS
Ann's Irish Gifts

Celtica Gifts 773-784-7712
Donegal Imports
Gaelic Imports
Irish Shop
INSURANCE

American Family-Joan McKee
Riordan Insurance
JEWELERS

H. Watson
MORTGAGE LENDING
Linda DeRoeck

MUSIC SCHOOLS
Chgo Academy of Piping/Drumming
Irish Music School of Chgo
MYSTERY SHOPPER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654

PARTY PLANNERS
That Special Event

PENNY WHISTLES
Michael Burke
PHOTOGRAPH CAPTURING
Memoirs for Me
PHYSICAL THERAPY
SPORTS-ORTHOPEDIC
Athletex
PLASTERING

William McNulty & Son
708-386-2951
PUB/RESTAURANT RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar
PUBS & RESTAURANTS

Ashford House
The Celtic Knot
Clancy's Pizza Pub
Corcorans
Emerald Loop
Fifth Province
Fiddler's Hearth
The Galway Arms
James Joyce Irish Pub
Lizzie McNeill's
Mickey Finn's Brewery
Nine Irish Brothers
Peggy Kinnanes
R
ed Apple Buffet
Six Penny Bit
Vaughan's Pub

REALTORS

Koenig & Strey
Mary Ellen Considine  773-769-2500
RESTAURANT/HOSPITALITY RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654
SPORTS CLUBS

Chgo Celtic Soccer Club
stbrigids.chicago.gaa.ie
ST PATRICK'S DAY
St Patrick's Day Parade
SWEATERS

Anne's Irish Knits
TABLE RUNNERS
All 32 Counties
TELEVISION-CABLE

Irish Journal 708-366-4665
THEATRE
Late Nite Catechism
Tony & Tina's Wedding
TOURIST ATTRACTION
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
TRAVEL /TOURS
BestIrishTours.com
Gadabout Travel
TUCKPOINTING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
VACATION RENTALS
Dingle Cottage
Cork - Cottage from $450 weekly
Don at 608-274-1180
WASTE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
WEDDING PLANNER
That Special Event

WEDDING VENUES
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Palos Country Club
WOOD FLOOR SPECIALIST
The Sexton Group