Lines wrap around building to celebrate life of slain WDBJ photographer Adam Ward

Posted at 7:48 PM, Aug 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-31 19:48:40-04

SALEM, Va. -- Hundreds of people dressed in maroon, packed into Salem High School Monday in honor of former Salem Spartan and Virginia Tech Hokie Adam Ward.

"He died doing what he loved and he's a role model to all of us," said Scott Habeeb, Salem High School Principal. "Losing Adam is losing a member of the family," added Habeeb.

The WDBJ photojournalist's life ended Wednesday on live television. He was gunned down, along with reporter Alison Parker, by former co-worker Vester Flanagan, while Ward's fiancé, and producer at the station, Melissa Ott, watched the murders from the control room.

Vicky Gardner, the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce, survived the shooting.

Five days later, through tears, hugs and laughs, family, colleagues, and the community celebrated Ward’s 27 years.
Some waited more than two hours to pay their respects to Ward's family and fiancé.

"They want people to celebrate their son's life. Adam was special because he loved people, he loved life because he was truly kind to others, so, this is an opportunity for us to let the world know who Adam was in his short life and how he impacted those around him forever," said Habeeb.

Like Ward's elementary school teachers, who knew he was special right from the start.

"He was a treasure got along well with the other children he was all excited about science and when they talked about him teasing about the weather I thought about all the things he loved about science," said Rebecca Boone, Ward's former Kindergarten teacher.

"He was vivacious he was helpful he was kind he was giving he was respectful so it was comforting for me to know the young child I taught in third grade become the man that he was," said Judy Deel, Ward's former third grade teacher.

Adam played football for Salem High School, where his dad works as a guidance counselor.

"Buddy Ward, Adam's father, was Adam's hero. It was obvious from the time he was a little kid. He'd tag along with him to work til recently when they would cover Friday football games together for WDBJ.”

It's those football games that CBS 6 photojournalist Chris Jenkins will remember when he worked with Ward at WDBJ. Adam was his sideline assistant and friend.

"The happiest guy in the room,” Jenkins said. “He was funny, he was genuine, we would crank up the radio to horrible pop songs and sing out loud without shame.”

Memories that will live on in honor of the son, the brother, the friend, the fiancée, the Adam, the world now knows.

A celebration of life service will be held Tuesday, September 1, at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Roanoke.