Large crowd attends visitation for WDBJ photojournalist Adam Ward

Large crowd attends visitation for WDBJ photojournalist Adam Ward
Source: WDBJ
Source: WDBJ

ROANOKE, VA (WWBT) - A large crowd gathered at Salem High School to pay final respects to the WDBJ photojournalist shot to death last week on live television.  Many people in the crowd wore the school colors of Virginia Tech and the Salem Spartans in honor of Adam Ward.

Adam's immediate family and fiancee attended the event.  His fiancee is a producer at the station and was in the control room when Adam and reporter Alison Parker were ambushed, shot, and killed.

But Monday was about remembering two people who were loved by so many.

Before WDBJ photojournalist Adam Ward was part of a news team, he was in Rebecca Boone's kindergarten class at Troutville Elementary School.

"He was a treasure," says Boone.  "He was always excited about science."

His third grade teacher, Judy Deel says Adam was always helpful and kind.  "He was just a lovely child," says Deel.  "A young boy that we were all happy to have in our classroom."

The teachers weren't the only ones at this visitation service who have known Adam and his family for years.  Salem High School principal Scott Habeeb was Adam's teacher and middle school football coach.  "We are honored to have the whole Ward family here," he said.

The current football team also came to pay their respects.  Principal Habeeb reflected on the close relationship Adam had with his father who was a guidance counselor at the high school.

"He wore shorts every day, no matter how cold it was," says Habeeb. "His dad told him he was a knucklehead, but he did it anyway."

Habeeb says both men loved the Virginia Tech Hokies.  In college, Adam was known for painting his chest at the Virginia Tech Football games.

"Adam was crazy about the Hokies from day one, his dad was crazy about the Hokies," says Habeeb.

At the event, friends and loved ones were encouraged to wear Hokie colors in honor of Adam.

"It's heartbreaking," says Habeeb.  "At the same time we look back and we think about Adam, and it was not a life wasted, it was a life well lived, he loved well."

Adam was part of the football team that won the state championship 10 years ago.

There will be a Celebration of Life event at the First Baptist Church in Roanoke on Tuesday.  Instead of flowers, Adam's family set up two scholarship funds - at Salem High and Virginia Tech.

There was a private visitation event for reporter Alison Parker.  Her family says her ashes will be scattered at the Nantahala River in North Carolina in a private ceremony.

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