By Steve Plunkett
GULF STREAM — By many retirement standards, Gary Ward was young.
But at age 41, after 21 years as a New York City policeman and 2½ years in the Army, he did retire. In 1988 he packed up his belongings and moved to Boynton Beach.
His retirement didn’t last long.
“Naturally he wanted to go to work again. He was too young to retire,” his wife, Barbara, said.
So he drove up and down State Road A1A and was struck by the charm of Gulf Stream and its towering Australian pines. “He said to me, ‘I think that’s where I want to work. It’s very nice,’ ” Mrs. Ward recalled.
Hired within a month, he rose through the ranks to become chief in 2000. But a bad stroke sidelined him last summer. Chief Ward died July 25 and was given a full military burial at Long Island National Cemetery on Aug. 1. He was 73.
His wife said he “loved, loved, loved” working in Gulf Stream and had reported for duty until the day before his stroke.
“He used to say it was like working in paradise,” Mrs. Ward said.
Anthony Pugliese remembered driving a little too fast on A1A and unexpectedly meeting the new officer.
“He pulled me over 27, 28 years ago pulling into my driveway,” Pugliese said.
The developer got off with a warning, and the two chatted by phone several times a year ever since. “I couldn’t say enough nice things about him. It’s a big loss for the town,” Pugliese said.
Christopher Yannuzzi, former police chief of Ocean Ridge, called Chief Ward “a mentor to me” on the Boynton Memorial Chapel’s website.
“It was an honor to know him and call him friend,” Yannuzzi wrote.
Before his police work, Chief Ward was assigned to the Army’s security agency in Thailand just before the Vietnam War. He was not allowed to speak about his duties there, even to his wife. “I never knew what he did — it was a secret kind of thing,” she said.
Mrs. Ward described her husband as “pretty much of a loner” and a man “very close” to his children, Garrett Jr., who also lives in Boynton Beach, and Kristin Hubbard, who lives in Deerfield Beach with her husband, Brett, and children, Liliana, 3, and Jonathan, 16 months.
As they grew older, the chief and his wife focused on family and each other. After work they would tune the TV set to PBS.
“We were pretty much addicted to British television detective stories,” Mrs. Ward said.
Along with his wife, children and grandchildren, Chief Ward is survived by brothers Paul in Boynton Beach; Kevin, Peter and Mark in New York; sister Lenore Coogan in New York, and many nephews and nieces.
In addition to the burial in Farmingdale, N.Y., a wake was held at Boynton Memorial Chapel on July 28.