Home on river was slide victim’s ‘ideal spot’
She had a warm spirit that could put people at ease, said Vickie Bligh, a longtime friend and former co-worker.
Ward, 58, died in the March 22 mudslide that destroyed the Steelhead Drive neighborhood. Her husband, Oso Fire Commissioner Timothy Ward, 58, was injured but survived.
“She loved Tim to death,” said Bligh, of Marysville. “He was her everything.”
The couple graduated from a Miami high school together in 1973. They headed west to Washington, where they raised their daughters, Tiffany Burdette and Brittany Juarez.
The Wards had five dogs. One, Blue, survived the slide.
“One of the things Brandy loved to do was walk the dogs along the river,” Bligh said. “Her whole family was important to her.”
Bligh worked with Ward for almost 20 years at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. As the hospital's cardiovascular lab secretary, Ward kept the department running smoothly.
Bligh, a nurse, recalls Ward's kindness.
“She'd be so patient with somebody who was being obtuse,” Bligh said.
Ward had a background in nursing. Doctors often wanted her help and were willing to wait for it.
“She was fabulous at the work she did,” Bligh said. “She did it and she did it well.”
Before Ward retired about three years ago, she and her husband moved to the peaceful place along the North Fork Stillaguamish River.
“It was her ideal spot,” Bligh said. “It was prototypical Northwest Washington.”
In addition to her love of the outdoors, Ward enjoyed sewing, crafts and painting.
When Bligh heard the mudslide had hit Oso, her thoughts immediately turned to Ward. Then she learned that her friend was missing.
“I wanted to go down there and start digging myself,” Bligh said. “We just kept hoping beyond hope that they'd find her alive.”
Ward remained missing until her death was confirmed on April 1.
“It's just devastating. It's like somebody hit me in the gut,” Bligh said. “Even though we were work friends, she was tightly woven into the fabric of my life. Now, there's a hole that I'm trying to mend.”
She appreciated Ward's strong character. The two would sometimes butt heads. In the end, they'd always end up laughing.
“I'll miss her big smile and her wonderful laugh,” Bligh said. “She'd just fill up a room with it.”
Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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