Ethel Louise Rhodes Ward

January 13, 1925June 8, 2018
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Ethel Louise Ward, 93, of Columbia, MO, passed away on Friday, June 8, 2018 at The Arbors at Colony Pointe Columbia, MO.

Visitation will be from 10:00 am – 11:00 am on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at Memorial Funeral Home. Funeral services will follow at 11:00 am at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery.

Louise was born on January 13, 1925 in Quincy, IL the daughter of Henry and Ethel (Lindsey) Rhodes who preceded her in death. She was married on October 3, 1942 in Denver, CO to Gerald Ward who preceded her in death in 1995. Louise was a member of First Christian Church, Columbia, MO and the Eastern Star-Thilo Chapter 3221. She and Gerald owned and operated Ward’s Jewelry until their retirement in 1985. Louise enjoyed reading, sewing and visits from family and friends.

Survivors include: two children, Jerry Lee Ward of Idaho and Janet Swope (Rodney) of Columbia, MO and two grandchildren, Chelsea Brunstrom (Ryan) of Columbia, MO and Jared Swope of Kansas City, MO.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure c/o Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 West, Columbia, MO 65202.

“A Journey Well Traveled” My Tribute to My Mother ~ Ethel Louise Rhodes Ward By Janet Lynn Ward Swope

On a cold January 13rd in 1925, a baby girl was born to Henry Edwin Rhodes and Ethel Belle Lindsey Rhodes in Quincy, IL. This baby girl was hoped for and waited for and immediately became the joy of her parents’ life.

The time came for the new family to head home from the hospital, so the new parents bundled themselves up and wrapped their new baby girl in blankets, hooked up the horse that had been patiently waiting in a barn behind the hospital, loaded up the buggy, and headed to Benbow...a little town in northeastern MO...just across the Mississippi River. Yes...going home in a horse and buggy in January with a newborn baby. There was no bridge where they needed to cross the river and many times my mother told me the story of how they could only cross over the Mississippi in the winter when the river was frozen over with ice. Can you imagine that?

Times were hard for many people at that time. My grandfather was a painter and wallpaperer by trade and consequently the family of 3 moved frequently to follow jobs for Grandpa...Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana...but my mom’s heart really never left little Benbow, MO. No matter where they lived, my mother and grandmother would return to Benbow to stay for the whole summer with mom’s grandparents and her 7 aunts and uncles. Time was spent with her cousins, relatives, and some of her earliest friends in life...two of them being Rose and Norma Ward...two sisters who lived within walking distance of Benbow. Coincidentally, Rose and Norma had an older brother named Gerald...who was always on his family’s farm working hard and causing a ruckus with his sisters and their friends. One sister Gerald called Rose and the other he called “Sister” my entire life I don’t remember him ever calling her Norma. One of the Ward girls’ friends was my mother, Louise. She spent quite a bit of time with Rose, Norma, and eventually their older brother...Gerald. Through those many summers spent in Benbow, MO, frequent family reunions, and hours upon hours spent in the Benbow Store, it suddenly seemed this gawky, skinny, young friend of my aunts’ became a 15 year old young woman and my father began to see her in a different light.

The summer of 1941 ended with my mother being 15 years old and my father 24 and the two decided they should marry. However, Mom had to return to Denver where she and my grandparents were living at the time. And my father got drafted and prepared to go to war. Ironically, he was shipping out of Denver, Colorado on October 4th, 1942. So on October 3rd, my grandmother went to Emerson High School, and Grandma checked my mother out at the office, and accompanied her to the Denver Municipal Courthouse where they met my father and at the age of 16, with my grandmother’s written consent, Louise Rhodes became Louise Ward. Her two childhood friends instantly became her sisters. My parents’ honeymoon consisted of a brief hour or so at the Denver Zoo after which my father checked into the army and my mother went back to high school. My grandfather would not find out for quite some time that his daughter had gotten married. My mother’s graduation from high school coincided with my father being transferred to Texas and he came to my grandparents’ house to pick up my mother so she could join him. I imagine there was quite a conversation at the Rhodes’s dinner table that night!

My parents remained in Texas for the duration of WWII. When the war ended they were faced with an uncertain future. My mother’s Uncle Nim owned a jewelry store in Columbia, MO and Uncle Nim told my father he could come and work for him if he went to jewelry school. The army paid for that jewelry school at Bradley University in Peoria, IL and a jeweler was created. The move to Columbia happened in 1948 and my parents never left. Eventually Lindsey Jewelry became Ward’s Jewelry and the uncle worked for his nephew until his retirement.

My brother, Jerry Lee, was born in 1953 and the Wards settled down permanently in Columbia and ran their family jewelry store. Gerald joined The Masonic Lodge and The Shriners and Louise joined The Eastern Star and the PTA. They began square dancing and joined a bowling league and were active members of the community. They were members of First Christian Church and participated in a variety of groups and activities. Permanent friendships were made in every aspect of their lives. They built a small cabin at The Lake Of The Ozarks where my father enjoyed taking pictures of the cabin, his family, and friends, and his boat. LOTS of pictures of his boat, right Chelsea?

I was born in November of 1962 with essentially 10 years between my brother and I. As a family we enjoyed trips to the lake, camping in Colorado and other places more times than I can count, and frequent trips to Branson and Silver Dollar City.

My mother worked in a dime store and babysat in high school. She was a dental assistant while my father was in jewelry college. She worked at The Pepsi Cola Company in Columbia until it became evident that the jewelry store was going to be their future. Then my mother devoted herself to working in the jewelry store, doing the ordering, and keeping the books. She was a devoted wife remaining married to my father for 53 years. She was an involved mother and active in her children’s lives.

She became a grandmother twice and a grandmother-in-law once. If you asked her she would say she had absolutely PERFECT grandchildren. She and my husband’s mother helped care for Chelsea and Jared before they started school and shaped their lives in innumerable ways. She couldn’t have been more proud of Jared, Chelsea and her husband Ryan.

There are stories I could share like the time I thought it would be fun to make a homemade Pepsi slushy so I put a can of Pepsi in the freezer. Being only about 7 years old, I hadn’t yet learned the scientific principle of the expansion of liquid when it freezes. I got quite a surprise as I stood in the kitchen and opened that frozen can of Pepsi. I’m sure I must have had a look of horror on my face. I did my best to get the kitchen cleaned up before Mom got home from work, but that didn’t happen. I promise you...the look of horror on HER face was ten times worse than mine. And I’m pretty sure the new owners of that house even 48 years later are still discovering dried up, caramelized blobs of Pepsi in hidden places all over that kitchen.

There was also the time I thought it would be funny to hide in mom’s closet at bedtime and when she reached in to get her pajamas I’d just hand them out to her. Apparently according to her scream and the fact that she stumbled backwards and fell onto her bed, she didn’t think it was funny.

There was the time my father bought me my first motorcycle for Christmas when I was 10 years old... without asking Louise first. He never got over being in trouble for that one, but I thought it was the best Christmas present ever. Who wakes up on Christmas morning and finds a motorcycle sitting in the middle of the living room floor? Eventually Dad bought Mom a motorcycle and we went on family rides together, so she finally came around.

Or how about the time I came home from a first date with a boy I met in the Hickman High School Parking lot during summer band camp. He picked me up in a cool blue Nova and we went to a movie. The Swope family knows all about that cool blue Nova! I came inside the house after our date and Mom asked me how things went. I said,

“Mom...I’m going to marry him.”

She kind of chuckled and said, “Oh now’ll go off to college and meet all kinds of boys.” And I did go off to college and meet all kinds of boys. But none of them were as good as Rodney! This past Monday we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary!

Louise was a two time 45-year breast cancer survivor. She had one kidney removed due to cancer. She had a heart attack last November and had a pacemaker put in. She overcame pneumonia within the last couple of months. She was always such a spirited, outspoken, opinionated, strong willed, stubborn woman. But she was my mother and I loved her.

In the end Mom was suffering from dementia and many things were confusing for her and her reality changed. One of her most recent nurses told me mom had spent the last week convinced she was leaving soon and needed to pack her belongings. Due to the dementia she had done this many times before. Rodney and I would show up for a visit and all of her belongings would be packed, all of her pictures off the wall, everything folded and stowed away ready to leave. We’d redirect her and start putting everything back in its place.

But this last week was different. Mom found one of her nurses in the hallway and grabbed her and said, “ husband, Gerald, is in my room now and he tells me it’s time for me to go.

Mom passed away at 9:10 that night. Some may think it was just the dementia talking as it so often did. And maybe it was, but I’d like to think my father got tired of waiting for her after 23 years of being apart. And it truly was time for her to go.

What a happy reunion Mom is having with family, good friends, and her one and only husband. You were my mother. You are my Guardian Angel. You will be missed.


  • Jerry Lee Ward, Child
  • Janet (Rodney) Swope, Child
  • Chelsea (Ryan) Brunstrom, Grandchild
  • Jared Swope, Grandchild

  • Rodney Swope
  • Ryan Brunstrom
  • Terry Swope
  • Steve Swope
  • Denis Swope
  • Kerry Pudenz
  • Jared Swope, Honorary
  • Marlan Graham, Honorary
  • Lone Oats, Honorary
  • Jeff Graham, Honorary
  • Matt Graham, Honorary
  • Malone Oats, Honorary
  • Trey Oats, Honorary
  • Newton Riley, Honorary
  • Russell Plummer, Honorary

  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure


  • Visitation Wednesday, June 13, 2018
  • Funeral Service Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ethel Louise Rhodes Ward

have a memory or condolence to add?

Dale Perkins

June 12, 2018

Louise and Gerald were both good friends of ours for many years. They will be greatly missed. Our condolences go to the family. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

mae oats

June 11, 2018

the world stopped when i was a kid...if Momma got mail from home, we all were quiet and WATCHED... she'd share when she was finished reading the postcard, usually from Aunt Louise or Grandma Ward. and then, life went on! Love really does make the world go 'round, but faith and family are right up there, too! what a nice, happy picture!


Louise Ward
Taken at The Timbers
Holts Summit, Missouri


Louise and her father
Henry Edwin Rhodes


Louise and her maternal grandparents


Louise and her mother,
Ethel Belle Lindsey Rhodes


The luxurious Benbow Outhouse
Rose Ward Kelly Owens and Ethel Louise Rhodes Ward


Uncle Elmer would always have a horse for Louise when she would stay in Benbow for the summer.


Gerald and Louise


Gerald Thomas Ward and Louise Rhodes Ward