Ward Roney, Jr., the spitting image of his Pop. A nice fellow to have as a friend.
Photo by Oscar Roloff.
by Oscar Roloff
As we sat at Ward Roney's kitchen table sipping on coffee, I saw in him a relaxed carefree man, the kind I used to know as a kid on the farm I'd left.
"Why did you leave the farm?" Ward asked of me.
"No one would hire me," I said. "I was too dumb, so I went into the Navy where I'd hear the same thing."
When he poured more coffee, I noted Ward limping and asked why.
"Too close to a Chinese mortar," he said.
One dark night, the enemy lobbed a mortar shell at his sand-bagged foxhole. When he came to, he saw dead and dying, and noted he'd been hit in the knee.
"Before the medic took care of me, I told him to take care of the others who were worse off. He did," the Korean War veteran said of his 1952-54 battle years.
After earlier spending two years at Seattle University in 1952, he received war orders and went to Korea. I'd been there too.
When I asked about his injury, Ward said he never made application for VA war compensation. In recent years the pain has increased. But Ward won't seek compensation. Very unusual.
He then got up, limped into the living room, took a large 4x4 foot display from the wall, brought it to me, and lo and behold, there were about seven large articles I'd written about his Dad, Judge Ward Roney.
"My dad was proud of you and collected these articles," Ward said.
Whereupon I said, "Many a time I'd come out to see your Dad who'd lived next door. We'd sit at the kitchen table and over coffee talk about our farm days, the good old days. Your Dad was a fine man. Though he was high in judicial standing, we two farm kids were on an even keel. What fun. Me, a plain writer, and he, a high man. I felt proud in his presence."
One day in 1972, Ward was introduced to his Pop's secretary, Val. She thought he was her dad's hired hand. Anyhow, soon they got married and had two girls, Katie and Marilyn.
Ward raises herbs, which he sells to certain stores. He also raises about 200 heifers a year, which he sells to another farmer, Tim Roetcisoen. (Soon I'll go out and interview him.)
Upon leaving, I looked at Ward and saw in him a kindhearted person who, like his Pop, never left the farm. When war called, both served.
When heading home, I recalled that a few years ago, Don Newman of Carnation had written a letter to the editor which read, "My wife says the people Oscar elects to write about all have a common bond, that of integrity."
That surprised me. I wasn't aware of it. Shucks, that's just the way I write. And yes, Ward is one of those guys. He has integrity. He's a nice chap, and a hard worker. A guy you can meet on the common level, laugh, joke and fun to be around.