North Carolina lost a huge contributor to its sports community this week with the death of former Fayetteville Observer editor Howard Ward, who died at the age of 84.
Ward spent 41 years working at the Observer, with 27 of them as spent as sports editor. In his time leading the department, he hired a core of reporters who would shape the award-winning section for many years to come.
Sammy Batten, who retired last year, is one of those reporters.
“I can say without a doubt he changed my life,” Batten said of Ward.
“He was always a pleasure to be around, always willing to do whatever he could to help you. Howard was so well-respected, especially in the golf community.
“I don’t know if I ever heard Howard say a cross word to anybody. He was just that kind of person.”
Batten also pointed out Ward’s hiring of former Observer reporter Kim Hasty to cover a wildly popular ACC sports beat at a time when there weren’t many women on the sidelines.
“He had the guts to hire…
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