In Memory

Tracy Ward

Tracy Ward

Tracy Ward, 51, who died Thursday during flooding in Central Texas, was passionate about two things: educating children with special needs and music, friends and family said.

Ward, who lived in Lockhart, was heading to work at Smithville Middle School on Thursday morning when his vehicle hydroplaned on FM 20 near Track Road in Caldwell County. His vehicle landed in a water-filled ditch, and when he got out he was swept away by rushing water. His body was found a short while later by emergency personnel, said his girlfriend, Michele Tagliabue, who got the details from Department of Public Safety officials at the scene.

Ward went to high school in Sierra Vista, Ariz., but grew up all over the world as the son of a soldier. He was a high school football player who followed his high school sweetheart to Texas in 1980 where they both attended Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State). The couple married and divorced two years after their daughter, Jessica Leah, was born. She lives in Colorado.

Ward started his career in education and took an interest in children with special needs or who came from troubled backgrounds, his sister Niki Ward said.

"He was an excellent friend and an excellent brother," she said.

He previously worked for the Hays school district and Child Protective Services.

"He had a way of understanding children with special needs and connecting with them," Tagliabue said. "His level of patience was outstanding."

When he wasn't teaching, he was indulging his other passion - music. A fan of nearly every music genre, his CD collection totaled more than 4,000 discs, Tagliabue said. He attended South by Southwest, Austin City Limits and other music festivals, and he was a fixture of the local music scene for many years.

"He enjoyed taking pictures with and meeting as many musicians as he could," Tagliabue said.

One of his favorite performers was Alice Cooper, she said, but he had such eclectic taste, it would be difficult to pin down his absolute favorite. He loved finding interesting items at thrift shops, snuggling with his cat and watching horror and science fiction movies.

"He was just wonderful," Tagliabue said. "He was my best friend."