GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - The funeral is being held for Col. Ward Webb, a longtime leader with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office and community servant, who passed away unexpectedly Tuesday night.
Visitation was held Friday at Ourso Funeral Home in Gonzales. It resumed Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church, which is located 1217 South Burnside Avenue in Gonzales. The service will be held at 11 a.m. with the burial to follow.
Webb began working with the sheriff's office in July of 1988.
According to the Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeffrey Wiley, Webb wore just about every hat in the building.
"He was that guy that you want, that puts everybody else before himself," Wiley said. "Departments like mine that are successful have Ward Webbs in them or they're not that successful."
Webb worked in the Patrol, Criminal Investigations, Training Division, and Administrative Services divisions before finally overseeing the Patrol/Traffic Division.
Webb became a legend of sorts in Ascension Parish law enforcement. When your boss calls you a "doer" and "game changer," you know you've done some things right. One of those things was transforming the office's Louisiana Special Olympic efforts.
"He had the heart of a lion and the courage of a lion," Wiley said. "But you could sit down and he'd be a puppy as well."
Webb helped coordinate events like the torch run and the popular Polar Plunge. He also had the distinct privilege of carrying the "Flame of Hope" in the International Special Olympics.
Representatives with the Louisiana Special Olympics say Webb has been involved with their organization since 1988. Carpenter-Bourgeois says Webb was the highest individual fundraiser in the history of the Louisiana Special Olympics. Webb was inducted into the Richard LaMunyon Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Hall of Fame at the 2017 Law Enforcement Torch Run International Conference. Officials say that award is the most prestigious award in the Torch Run community and is given to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a significant contribution to the Torch Run movement and Special Olympics at the local, national, and international levels.
"He got that immediately that these are not individuals that I should shy away from, these are people that I should include in my life," Carpenter-Bourgeois said when speaking of the relationship Webb developed with the athletes.
Carpenter-Bourgeois also says Special Olympics is a movement that draws you in and when people realize they can impact the lives of those with disabilities, they're hooked.
"Some of them think, 'Well I'm going to go out there and do my duty and go home,' then they realize they really can't go home," she said. "They can't walk away and Ward was one of those people."
Over the last couple of years, Sheriff Wiley says Webb faced some health issues, but he didn't let that stop him from making a difference.
"He was at work on time and he was at work until one of us said, 'Ward, go home and get some rest.'"
It doesn't seem rest was a word Webb was really used to using. Friends of his tell 9News watching Webb in action was a constant inspiration.
"I wish that I could bottle it and give it to everyone I know," Carpenter- Bourgeois said. "It was just a unique ability that he had to realize that people with intellectual disabilities are people, too."
The sheriff says now they have "huge shoes to fill."
"The friendship and love that he possessed for us," Wiley said. "We owe him."
Webb married his wife, Juanita Boudreaux Webb, in 1990. According to the sheriff's office website, he is survived by two stepdaughters and four grandsons.
At the time of his death Webb was a lieutenant colonel with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, but on Wednesday, Sheriff Wiley promoted him to the rank of colonel.
In liew of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made to the Louisiana Special Olympics.