Arthur G. Ward Jr., a former Melville resident, founded a successful Long Island advertising agency and was a loving father to a blended family sometimes called “The Brady Bunch.”
Ward died May 31 of natural causes at a hospice facility in State College, Pennsylvania. He was 90.
Born in Brooklyn, Ward grew up in Hempstead and received an appointment to West Point. He served in the Army at the end of World War II, then completed his undergraduate degree in journalism at Penn State University in State College in 1949.
He loved Penn State so much that he and his second wife, Adeline, retired to State College in 1982, his family said. His daughter, Caroline Petrie, 54, of Bay Head, New Jersey, and two of his eight grandchildren also graduated from Penn State.
Ward lived in Levittown and then moved to Old Bethpage in 1955 before settling in Melville in 1966.
In 1950, he married Rita Close. The couple had three children; his wife died in 1974 after a long illness.
He founded the GAMUT advertising agency in 1966, which became one of the largest on Long Island. “He took a risk and started a business,” his son said. Ward expanded the firm in the 1970s and ran several companies, including Selective Exposures, which handled billboards on the Island, and the Hendrickson Publishing Co., which was founded in 1916.
Among the advertising accounts he had was Newsday, Petrie said. Ward handled radio and television advertising for Newsday from the late 1950s to 1990s. His other accounts included the Long Island Rail Road and Michelin Tire Co.
In 1976, he married Adeline Petito, widow of Judge Michael N. Petito, a former Town of Oyster Bay supervisor.
Adeline Petito was holding a fundraiser at her home in Muttontown for a political candidate. Ward showed up, but the event was canceled.
“So my mother said to him, ‘There’s no party. But I feel terrible, so come in and have a cup of coffee.’ And he was a widower and obviously my mom was a widow, and they started talking, and the rest is history,” Petrie said.
The two married in 1976 and lived in Muttontown, then in Brookville, and retired to State College in 1982. They were wed 31 years.
Ward had three children from his first marriage and she had four daughters from her first, so family and friends would jokingly call the family “The Brady Bunch,” after the popular TV show, Petrie said.
Petrie said she never thought of him as her stepfather and, before Father’s Day in the 1980s, she told him: “ ‘For Father’s Day, I want you to legally adopt me.’ He said, ‘That’s the best Father’s Day present I ever got.’ ”
Ward raised funds for the Long Island Philharmonic, Eglevsky Ballet and several other performing arts organizations. In retirement, the couple enjoyed the theater, the symphony and cheering Penn State football and women’s basketball. In 2013, Ward published a novel, “Return of the Founding Fathers.”
In addition to Petrie, Ward is survived by six children: Kevin Ward, 64, of Washington, New Jersey; Heather Hardy, 62, of State College; Peggy Belden, 60, of Southport, Connecticut; Barbara Petito, 59, of Alexandria, Virginia; Jeffrey Ward, 59, of Orlando; and Catherine Jones, 52, of Dixon, Missouri; and eight grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Ward was cremated and a memorial service in State College is planned at a future date.