Scores of family members, friends, colleagues and community residents celebrated the life of Getahn Ward (CQS 1994 and 1995) during funeral services on Jan. 6 at Born Again Church in Nashville, Tenn.
Ward, 45, a longtime business reporter at The Tennessean, an adjunct professor of journalism at Tennessee State University and an esteemed community leader, died on Dec. 16 after a brief illness. The cause of death has not been declared.
“A person worth celebrating, gone too soon,” Sherry Parfait (CQS 1994), wrote in a Facebook post after attending the service. “My friend Getahn Ward passed away recently, and today, he was honored by his family, friends, colleagues, and the community he loved and served with excellence and humility. I’ve known Getahn since 1994, when we were both news reporting interns in the Chips Quinn Scholars program.”
Many people shared recollections during the service, including Ward’s mother, Amelia Ward, who was visiting from Liberia, his birthplace, at the time of his death, and his sisters Clarisa Ward-Williams and Oretha Ward. Bishop Horace Hockett delivered the eulogy.
Representatives of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), National Association of African Journalists, The Tennessean, TSU and other organizations provided tributes.
Ward was also recognized by Tennessee’s General Assembly, and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and the Metropolitan Council declared Jan. 6 “Getahn Ward Day,” according to Parfait.
“The lists goes on and on, because he impacted lots of lives on a personal and professional level,” Parfait wrote. “I’m still not sure how he passed, but it’s comforting to know that he is leaving an unforgettable legacy. Rest In Peace, Getahn.”
Ward’s legacy includes a memorial scholarship in his name at TSU to benefit aspiring journalists, sponsored by the university, The Tennessean, NABJ and the Gannett Foundation. In the first two weeks, donations totaled $33,510, surpassing the $25,000 required to establish the annual scholarship in perpetuity, The Tennessean reported on Jan. 4. Organizers ultimately hope to collect $50,000 in donations for the Getahn Ward Memorial Scholarship, the first endowed scholarship in TSU’s Department of Communications.
“The community outpouring in the wake of Getahn’s death has been overwhelming,” Michael A. Anastasi, vice president of news and editor of the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee, told The Tennessean. “The amount raised so far for the scholarship is a testament to the impact he had on Nashville and the TSU community. We at The Tennessean are touched.
“Our fundraising efforts are continuing and we’re hopeful the fund will continue to grow,” Anastasi was further quoted as saying. “This scholarship is a fitting way to honor Getahn’s legacy and will help future journalists follow in his footsteps.”