Chuck Ward passes

North Carolina bluegrass musician, Chuck Ward, 61, of Albemarle, passed away Tuesday, May 14, 2024. A multi-instrumentalist, he was the son of the late renowned luthier and musician, Clermon “CE” Ward. He played mandolin, fiddle, and guitar, but his primary instrument was the banjo. He even built one under the guidance of his father’s workmanship and expertise.

Chuck started playing guitar during his mid-teens and then expanded to other instruments. He went on to perform with several area bands.

Guitarist Keith Souther stated, “Chuck played with us for about three years. The band was Destination Bluegrass Band. He was a great friend and musician. Chuck was always willing to learn something new and try something different. He was a great person to make music with and fun to travel with. I am so sorry that he passed at such an early age. Will be praying for his family.”

Another North Carolina guitarist, Joe Mchaffey, shared, “Chuck played some shows with NuHiWay at Mt Gilead Music Barn, among other venues. I knew Chuck for many years through my association with his dad. Chuck was a fine musician. And at an early age, he knew the bluegrass standards. He was kind of an old soul in that way. He loved to laugh. He was a fun guy to be around. We stayed in touch via social media up until his death. He is missed.”

Banjoist Danny Bowers noted, “Only picked with him a few times…nice fellow and a solid picker. Condolences to his family and friends.”

Eric Ellis, another area banjo picker, added, “Years ago he used to come up here to visit me. Rest in peace, my friend.”

Dean Stone, a banjoist and luthier who apprenticed under Chuck’s dad, shared a great memory.

“I met Chuck through working with CE the last couple years that CE was alive. He took me to one of the best jam sessions that I’ve ever been in at Gold Hill on a Saturday night in 2010 or 2011. Vivian Pennington Hopkins called it ‘Super Pickers,’ and it was by invitation only. Chuck picked banjo and then guitar. We played until midnight or one in the morning.”

A celebration of life was held on May 18 at Edwards Funeral Home in Norwood, NC. Longtime friend, musician, and luthier, Gary Pressley played and sang Beautiful Life during Ward’s service. 

“He was a good friend. We talked every day. I’m sure going to miss him,” Pressley stated.

Chuck is survived by his wife, Armie Ward of the home; son: Matthew Ward and wife, Shauna, of Rock Hill; and four grandchildren: Julia, Reed, Keelan, and Liam Ward.

Memorials may be made to:

Edwards Funeral
Home PO Box 765
Norwood NC 28128

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.