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Sue Fryer Ward


photo of Sue Fryer Ward

Sue Fryer Ward was born in Albuquerque, NM, on October 28, 1935, to Ione Pierce and E. Reeseman Fryer, the younger of two daughters. Her first years were spent in Arizona, on the Navajo Nation, where her father worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She gained a profound understanding of community and global citizenship as the family traveled extensively throughout her father’s career.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA), with a year at the American University of Beirut (Beirut, Lebanon). She did graduate work at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and earned her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT). She was a Licensed Certified Social Worker in the state of Maryland and a Board Certified Diplomate through the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work.

On November 3, 1959, she married Rev. Dr. Archibald Ward and they settled in Clinton, MD. They had two daughters, Beth Ione Ward and Lucille Elleanore Ward (now Walker), who learned to be activists from their mother.

Sue Ward’s special passion was advocating for civil and human rights, particularly the rights of elders. She was Director of the Department of Aging for Prince George’s County, Maryland (1982-1991); Director of the County’s Department of Family Services (1992-1995); and Director of the Maryland Office on Aging (1995-1998). In 1998, she was appointed the first cabinet-level Secretary of Aging for the State of Maryland (1998-2003). After leaving government service she served as Grassroots Director for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (2003-2011). She was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives in Maryland’s fourth congressional district in 1978.

Ward was active in the Maryland and National Associations of Area Agencies on Aging, president of the National Associations of Area Agencies and State Units on Aging, the Maryland Gerontological Association, and the Commission on Legal Problems of the Elderly, a program of the American Bar Association. Among the numerous boards on which she served were Hospice of Prince George’s County, the Older Women’s League, the Center on Global Aging at Catholic University, Business and Professional Women, and the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center.

Throughout her life, Ward was an ardent volunteer and activist, tutoring children with learning difficulties, advocating civil rights and reproductive freedom, and staffing polls on Election Day. Her dedication to service, diversity and true equality was an inspiration to countless colleagues and citizens. Through her leadership, the treatment and rights of senior citizens in Maryland and throughout the nation were significantly increased.

Sue Fryer Ward was recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maryland Gerontological Association, the Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Award to Women in Government Service, and the Gladys Noon Spellman Award for Excellence in Public Service. In 2010 she was named a “Social Work Pioneer” by the National Association of Social Workers.

She died June 22, 2014, from complications following a stroke, at the age of 78.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2015.

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