Landscapes 13

Mark Peters Ward

August 17, 1953 ~ July 13, 2022 (age 68)


The Rev. Mark Peters Ward, age 68, of Asheville, NC, died on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. Mark died of a sudden cardiac event while visiting family. Beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, minister and friend, he touched many people’s lives who now share the shock and sorrow of his sudden death. A gifted writer and minister, with a deeply generous soul, Mark conveyed hope for the world, courage to live fully, and open-hearted curiosity for each new day. Mark’s generous presence encouraged others to feel at home in their own being.

Born on August 17, 1953, in Wilmington DE, he was the first child of Cynthia and Jack Ward. The family settled in Central New Jersey shortly thereafter. The oldest of five – four boys and a girl – Mark navigated the natural role of pioneer, which served his sensibility throughout his life and careers as a scholar, journalist and Unitarian Universalist minister. For some time he dwelled in academic pursuits. He received a BA from Earlham College, an MA in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College, an MS in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and, 25 years later, an MDiv from Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago, IL. Suffice it to say Mark had a lifelong love of learning and, as a blessing to all who knew him, a gift for sharing what he learned. Mark met his spouse, Debbie, in Princeton, while exploring a career in journalism. A graduate degree later, Mark and Debbie were married at the Princeton Unitarian Church in 1979. Moving to Charleston, WV and then Milwaukee, WI, their family grew, with the joy of parenting three daughters: Anna, Erica and Meredith. Mark’s journalism career spanned nearly 20 years before he entered Seminary. He was ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry by the UU Congregation of Asheville in 2005. He served as lead minister for 17 years, retiring last June, 2021.

Once settling in Asheville, NC, with a new career in UU ministry, Mark and Debbie became an integral part of the life of their granddaughters: Eliza and Lucille, who live nearby. Being present to family was of vital importance to Mark. Mark’s embrace of life can be described by a phrase he often coined: “I find joy in the blooming, buzzing sea of existence in which we make our lives.” He loved music and the performing arts. He was an avid gardener, inspired cook, playful potter and joyful volunteer. Ever seeking meaningful connection, he found meaning through nature, in community and with acts of justice.

Mark will be dearly and deeply missed in countless circles of care that span far and wide. He is survived by his spouse, Debbie, daughters Anna, Erica and Meredith, son-in-law Langdon, grandchildren Eliza and Lucille, and siblings Keith, Terry and Lisa.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, July 29th at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Pl., Asheville, 28801. The memorial will also be livestreamed on you tube at this link: You can also go to the church’s website ( and the link will be clearly evident.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mark’s name may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville (address above) or Asheville Greenworks:

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mark Peters Ward, please visit our floral store.

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for Mark

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Memorial Service
July 29, 2022

3:00 PM
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville (Asheville)

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