Wayne Leslie Ware

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Wayne Leslie Ware

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Wayne Ware
Wayne Ware

Wayne Leslie Ware, our beloved brother and friend to many, returned to his Heavenly home on April 11, 2020. He was born on Feb. 27, 1952, in Fort Morgan, Colorado to Ruth Julia Lebsock Ware and Karl J. Ware. A few years later, the family moved to Worland, Wyoming, and then to Billings, in October 1959. Wayne was the oldest of four children and loved his family with all his heart. As the oldest child, he was their protector and Hero.

Wayne had many gifts, talents, and abilities. One of his greatest gifts was his fine example and keen ability to make friends and uplift others. From the time he was a young boy, he never met a stranger and everyone, no matter their situation, was his friend. Wayne was genuine, a true gentleman, and always remained true to his values. He had a twinkle in his eye and an endearing grin that made you feel special. He never held a grudge and touched many people in many wonderful ways.

Wayne loved nature and being outdoors to hunt and fish. As a boy of 5 years, he wanted to go fishing with his dad and uncle, but they said he was too little and started on their way. Determined to go, Wayne hopped on his tricycle and pedaled as fast as he could behind them on the highway, a dangerous situation. The family dog ran beside him and barked until the men saw Wayne trucking down the highway on his tricycle. They went back for Wayne and he got to go fishing. Wayne’s resilient determination continued throughout his life. When he was 16, a friend’s young son was lost in a river. Wayne was one of the first to search for him. After days of searching in miserable, cold, rainy weather, the others gave up and left, but not Wayne. He continued to search for many days thereafter, oftentimes alone. Quitting was not in his vocabulary, and his courage and determination carried him through many difficult situations.

Throughout his childhood and life, Wayne loved and was actively involved in sports. He played football, baseball, softball and other sports. Many times, he was named MVP. His dream was to be a professional football player. The other teams’ strategy was not to win, but to “hurt the Ware kid” to win. Unfortunately, too many hard hits resulted in a serious leg injury that crushed his dream.

Wayne graduated from Billings West High School and earned his Associate’s Degree from Ricks College. He then attended and graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo. He loved BYU, especially the sports. He was the ASBYU Athletics Vice President and was deeply involved in various sporting activities. He went on road trips with the football team, organized and handled student ticket distribution for 30,000 students, along with many other responsibilities. As ASBYU VP, he frequently met with the President of BYU, Dallin H. Oaks, and greatly enjoyed those interactions. After graduating with a BS Degree, Wayne continued his associations with BYU as a member of the Cougar Club for many decades. As a Legacy 3 Cougar Club member, he was humbled, but happy, to find his name on a plaque in the Student Athletic Building. Through these associations, he met many BYU and professional athletes and gained additional cherished friendships.

Wayne also had season tickets for BYU football and basketball for many years. Because he was a football referee, fans loved to sit near him and constantly asked questions about calls. Once, when the crowd “booed” at the refs, Wayne quietly said, “That was a good call” even though it was against his favored BYU team. Stunned by his response, spectators asked him to explain and from that point on he became a mentor to all around him and again made instant friendships. When unable to attend games, Wayne willingly gave his tickets to friends so they could have the memorable experience of attending BYU games in great seats. This is just one example of his kind generosity and continuous desire to share with others.

Wayne loved playing softball for many years. In his prime, he could throw a strike over home plate from the far back fence of center field. He was competitive, as most are when playing sports, but in a good way. To this a good friend said, “It’s a rare trait to be competitive and still have everyone love you, but that was Wayne — he had that rare trait.”

Wayne was involved in all aspects of softball. He was instrumental in helping develop and improve Stewart Park and spent many late nights grooming fields. He served on the Billings Softball Board of Directors for many years including as President and Vice President and was on the Amateur Softball Hall of Fame Election Committee. He loved all his friends and associates involved in softball, especially his good friend of over 50 years, John Weber.

He was also the Softball Commissioner for the Big Sky State Games for 34 years, since it began, with the first year as assistant commissioner. Because of his remarkable leadership skills, he easily organized and successfully completed numerous softball tournaments and greatly influenced many people throughout Montana. He loved being an instrumental part of this great event and all those involved with the State Games. In 2006, Wayne received the Big Sky State Games Volunteer of the Year award — it was the inaugural year of the award. Wayne’s continued volunteer service with the State Games and other community activities is commendable and, in many ways, unmatched.

Wayne was a member of the Billings Midland Roundtable, where he served as President for a time. He loved the athletic, scholastic ideal and involvement in athlete of the year activities and other events to foster and promote youth sports. Wayne also headed up the Score Table for the MSU-B Men’s basketball games and worked score tables for Rocky football. Through all these activities, Wayne especially enjoyed his associations with the students and others.

Because of his love of football, he became a referee for over 25 years. He taught study classes and was a great example to many. He refereed high school, college and Indoor Arena football. Through this, he developed many wonderful relationships and lifelong friends. Many expressed feelings of true respect and admiration for Wayne and his great example. A fellow referee asked Wayne why he gave up prime football games to others. Wayne responded, “You have to do what’s best for everyone.” This referee said that impressed him so much that he adopted that as his personal motto. Wayne truly cherished his friendships and associations with all fellow referees.

After graduating from the BYU Engineering Department, Wayne worked construction for some years and then worked for the City of Billings Engineering Department until he retired in July 2019. Again, Wayne made many friends with those he worked with, both inside and outside the office.

Wayne was kind, compassionate, and tenderhearted. He lovingly cared for his mother until the time of her passing two years ago. Shortly thereafter, he endured a difficult surgery valiantly and courageously where he truly proved himself in the “furnace of afflictions.” He was an amazing example of staying positive and enduring well.

Wayne always believed that people were more important than things and epitomized that throughout his life. He was a great listener and had the rare ability to focus completely on the person he was with. He always had the right words for any situation. His sister, Lori, marveled many times at his keen insight and skilled handling of difficult or awkward situations — he was and always will be her Hero. Many people stated that they were a better person because of Wayne and their associations with him and his good example. His good friend said, “People who didn’t even know Wayne are better because of him and all he has done and accomplished. His good works will ripple on and on just as occurs with a stone skipping over water.” To Wayne, his friends were, and will always be, “forever friends.”

Wayne was an incredible leader, organizer, and planner. When someone said it couldn’t be done, Wayne showed them how it could be done. He would do anything to help anyone. When an older friend called, he went out late at night in a blizzard to bury her pet in frozen ground without complaint. This is just one example of many of his kindness and service to others.

Wayne loved the Lord and his Heavenly Father with all his heart. He was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He enjoyed Scouting and earned his Duty to God Award. He served in many Church leadership positions and especially enjoyed serving at the Billings Montana Temple. He had many Church friends and loved his associations with them. His benevolent acts of service to others were constant and often unknown — he just did what needed to be done and rarely talked about it. Wayne was a remarkable man of great faith and wisdom. Because of his love of the Lord, he loved the scripture, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9)

Wayne truly had a big heart. He was an exceptional man — a man of great character, integrity, and a friend to all. His cousin, Boyd, said that Wayne’s influence was astounding — he was like a magnet; and, that he had a quiet confidence to never be afraid. He touched many through his good works and marvelous example. Wayne was true, faithful, honest, fair, valiant, stalwart, noble, fearless, strong, genuine, dependable, intuitive, humble, gentle, loving, kind, generous, positive, greatly respected, and much, much more. His goodness and brightness illuminated all around him. No one could ask for a better son, brother, or truer friend than he. We miss you with all our hearts and await the day when we are reunited once again.

Wayne was preceded in death by his parents, Karl and Ruth Ware; his maternal grandparents, Jacob and Mollie Lebsock; his paternal grandparents; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. He is survived by his siblings, Charmayne, Duane and Lorraine; as well as his sister-in-law and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Because of COVID-19 issues, a memorial service to celebrate Wayne will be held at a later date.

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0 thoughts on “Wayne Leslie Ware”

  1. A wonderfully written obituary for Wayne. It truly is accurate about his organizational skills, willingness to work with and help others and his love for his family. I/we will miss his smile, his warm personality and his involvement in our community and our lives. God bless Wayne; God bless his family and friends.

  2. Mike and Diann Glenn

    There will always be an emptiness with Wayne gone from our midst. We know where he is, who he is with, and what he is doing. We know that the Lord’s plan for Wayne is still unfolding. The obituary is a beautiful tribute for a life well lived.

  3. Ron Nierstheimer

    It is with my great sadness that I heard of Wayne’s passing. I knew Wayne through officiating football, members of the Middle Roundtable and also working the Big Sky State games.

    My deepest condolences to Lori and the rest of Wayne’s extended family.

  4. Wayne was a wonderful, gentle man. All who knew him were blessed. This is a lovely tribute to Wayne, he was called home too soon for all of us. Rest In Peace Wayne. ❤️

  5. Donna Dixon Adams

    So saddened to learn of Wayne’s passing. I always remember him as a warm, kind, and generous man to whom friendships were paramount. Too soon gone, but well regarded and remembered. The tribute written is lovely and expresses well his character.

  6. Lynette Hecht Blakesley

    Lori and Family, I was so sad to read of Wayne’s passing. I know it will be a huge void in your life, but I pray for comfort and good memories to sustain you.

  7. Lori, I was so sad to read about Wayne’s passing. What a wonderfully written obituary and tribute to his life. I also read the other newspaper article. He certainly is missed. I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this loss, particularly during this virus time when a service can’t be held. Hopefully you and your family are staying safe. Marv

  8. WAYNE and I were friends for many years, as met playing softball, he was a good friend and always had a kind word for you. When Wayne found out I was a policeman, working night shift, he would ask to be allowed to be on a ride a long, as we did many times, I would pick him up at his house, we had some fun times, he was indeed a great man and I enjoyed being around him. he indeed will be missed.

  9. Very nice obituary! My love to you Lorraine, Charmayne and your brother. I know how much you loved Wayne.

  10. Cheryl Pietz Bradley

    Ware siblings, I am so sorry to hear of Wayne’s passing. I am glad I got to visit with him at your moms funeral. You are a close family and I know you will lean on each other in your grief. Stay strong. You’ve got this.

    Cheryl Pietz Bradley

  11. Dick and Fay Larsen

    Robert Louis Stevenson as a tribute to Wayne has said it best:”He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earths beauties, nor failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he had; whose life is an inspiration, whose memory is a benediction.”

  12. A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. I have enjoyed my friendship and association with Wayne over the past 20 years. He was always willing and eager to help others. He carefully cared for and loved his family. His presence in our lives will be missed by his influence will continue.

  13. Marianne Stoddard

    For Lori, Charmayne, Duane, I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my heart and in my prayers. I pray you feel peace.

  14. Wayne was a true, loyal friend to so many and was our friend, a friendship that will always be treasured and remembered. He sought to do good in all facets of his life and the legacy of his good works will endure to bless his family, the community, and his church. His voice, especially his laugh, was distinctive and inviting and shared in many settings and situations. He had the ability to diffuse challenging situations with a playful tease or joke. He was not only dedicated to family and friends but also to causes, organizations, and activities which lifted and inspired. His life was one of giving and caring. All of our family consider ourselves so very blessed to have known and associated with this kind, loyal friend whose memory will fill our hearts with fondness and eagerness till we meet again. The Lord bless him and his family.

  15. Barbara J. Jenkins

    My name is Barbara Jenkins. I knew Wayne for a short period of time during our High School years. My father was the Mission President during those years, and I lived in the mission home on Rimrock Road. I was from Florida, so I only had the three years to get to know people through our Church in Billings. Gratefully, Wayne was one of those people. What a sweet young man he was. In reading the lovely obituary of a life well lived, I learned so much more about Wayne. I’m not surprised to hear that he was an incredible person. I was interested to read about his time at BYU. I wish I would have known because I was working at BYU during the same years. I also connected with him working with the Cougar Club. My father, Joseph J. Jenkins, was a member of the Cougar Club. Because my Father had contracted MS and was in a wheel chair, I would take him to his meetings and socials. I probably saw Wayne and never knew it. And lastly, my sweet Father passed on April 11, 1990 at the age of 62. So Wayne, I hope you will introduce yourself to my Dad. You both have so much in common, including your passing date. To Wayne’s family, I am certain that some of my siblings knew you. We were living in the Mission Home from 1967-1970, and there were eight of us children. So I will be passing this on to my sibblings. Thank you for sharing the gift of your brother with the world that he reached. He was a quiet man with a tender heart. He didn’t have to put himself out there and pay attention to a temporary person in his Ward and at his school. I was a fish out of water, pulled out of Florida and put in Montana for this three year mission. But there was Wayne, Mike Glenn, Greg Peacock, Patti Childberg, Arlene Brakke, and so many more. I stood in the shadows, and Wayne pulled me out and said come and meet some great friends. You have endured it well, my friend. Not all have the blessing of knowing that there is a special place for them in heaven. As we mourn here, a celebration of a good life is happening on the other side of the Heaven. Much love and comfort to Wayne’s family and they remember, cry, and laugh through all the good times.

  16. Blaine & Bobbe Ostler

    Wayne was a wonderful, inspirational individual. His smile always filled the room with joy when he entered it. We have never met a man who was more devoted to his family, his mother and his sisters than he was. Even during the later part of his life, he was always looking for a way to lighten their burdens. We loved the Christmas gatherings or just the simple visits to the Ware home and their joyous celebrations of life. There were many times that he came to our home to repair and replace a hot water heater or some other major household catastrophe. We were enthralled by his knowledge and love for sports, especially football, softball, and basketball. It was illuminating to sit by him and gaining an insider’s viewpoint of the inner working of team play and the intricate rules of the game. Wayne had a deep love for Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. He always put the needs of others before his own. What a great example and legacy that he has left behind. No one who came into contact with Wayne was not deeply touched and motivated to be a better person. We love you and look forward to the day when we can see you again.

  17. It is with great sadness that I learned of Wayne’s passing. He was a wonderful, caring man. My thoughts, prayers, and deepest condolences to Lori, Charmayne and Duane.

  18. Wayne was my closest friend for many years. We ran around together when we were both young, late teens to early 2o’s until I moved away from Billings. We lost touch over the ensuing years but I have never forgotten my friend. He was a big part of my life and I’ll always remember the good times we had.

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