By Phil Ward
I was a cradle Catholic born on my father’s birthday, June 10, 1935, in Warren, Arkansas. My mother, Violet Skees Ward, was a devout Catholic married to a non-Catholic, Jake Ward. My parents intended to be farmers the first year of their marriage in DeQueen, Arkansas, but a flood wiped them out. That was the first tragedy.
We moved to Warren where my father became superintendent of an ice plant, a cotton gin and a fertilizer plant, all close together. We lived in a small company-owned home behind the ice plant. Warren was a small but booming lumber mill town located about 88 miles due south of Little Rock, Arkansas, the state capital. The population was about 2500 then and about 6000 now. So, it was a very small town. It was mostly a Protestant community with maybe five Catholic families. I remember Mom serving delicious meals to our visiting priest after Sunday Mass that was held only once every two or three weeks in a very small church building.