Charlotte Berkley Reed Ward

February 19, 1929 – January 30, 2022


Charlotte Berkley Reed Ward of Auburn, Alabama passed away on January 30, 2022 at the age of 92.9.

She was born in Mt Sterling, Kentucky on February 19, 1929 to the late, William Ritter and Henrietta Marcella Ilhardt Reed. She is also preceded in death by her husband, Curtis Howard Ward who passed November 10, 1998.

She is survived by her children, Emma Ward Morris; Bess B Ward; Mark Howard Ward; and Matthew Reed Ward; grandchildren, Brynne Mariah Ward McCord; Thomas Reed Ward; and Joseph Curtis Ward; great-grandchildren, Coby Emerson Rochi McCord and Calina Iley Parker McCord.

A Memorial Service will be held on February 19, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. CT at Auburn First Baptist (masks required). The service will also be available via livestream at Dr. Tripp Martin will be officiating.

Charlotte was truly a renaissance woman and a pioneer. She earned her BS (1949), and her Phi Beta Kappa Key, and MS (1951) in Chemistry at the University of Kentucky where she also met the love of her life. She married Curtis Ward, a fellow chemist, in 1951. She earned her PhD in Physical Chemistry at Purdue University in 1956. Charlotte taught science for grade school students on Alabama’s first Educational Television network (1958-1967, long before her own family owned a television), was on the faculty and taught in the Physics Department at Auburn University for nearly 30 years, and was a founding faculty member of the Ascent of Man curriculum, which brought together faculty and students from across the liberal arts and sciences for a truly integrated and novel curriculum. She translated and abstracted for Chemical Abstracts (1958-1984), another way to keep learning while educating others.

During that time, she spent decades as a Girl Scout (receiving the Silver Beaver Award in 1981 for lifetime impact in Scouting) and Cub Scout leader, Conference Leader at Camp Miniwanca and the American Youth Foundation, Sunday School teacher, Deacon of Auburn First Baptist Church, Auburn City Councilwoman, long-time member and often state president of the Alabama League of Women Voters, and served as president of the Auburn University Faculty Senate.

A self-confessed “ham”, she loved to teach and beginning while she was professor at Auburn, she also taught English as a Foreign Language for graduate students and other transplants to the Auburn area, led adult education classes in myriad topics including astrophysics, physics, history and philosophy. She even spent two summers in China teaching Chinese English teachers. She was the author of a college general science text book and much other public writing. Especially in later years, she was a frequent editorial letter writer and was always pleased to see her sometimes provocative, always clever and logical, letters published in Alabama’s leading newspapers.

Charlotte was also an artist (e.g., Chinese water color style calendars), baker (hundreds of dozens of cookies for church bake sales), cook (always experimenting with international dishes inspired by her international students and friends as well as her own travels), reader (voraciously reading everything from hard core science to brain candy murder mysteries), knitter, debater, globe trotter (by ship, trains, and planes, but rarely by automobile). Her main mode of transport during her working days was by bicycle, and she famously spent the first royalty check from the publication of her book on a fancy new Raleigh bicycle. She and her husband were often featured in local publications as the cycling duo (long before bicycles were common for either students or faculty transportation) and were honored in on September 15, 2001 when the Curtis and Charlotte Ward Bike Trail in Chewacla State Park was opened with a dedication ceremony honoring the couple because they showed how practical it is to use a bicycle as a means of transportation in Auburn.

Charlotte was as comfortable reading stories to her great grandson as she was debating academics in favor of her faith. To her last days, she worked with people in need through the Community Market and the Christian Women’s Job Corps. Always the professor, she was still teaching over Zoom in the Ollie program for retired university professors. Her favorite book by far was the Bible. She never traveled without it, even for a single day.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Christian Women’s Job Corps at 215 E Thach Ave, Auburn, AL 36830; (334) 821-0591 or Community Market at 355 Industry Drive, Auburn, AL 36801; (334) 749-8844; or onlne at

Frederick-Dean Funeral Homes servicing Alabama Funeral Homes & Cremation Centers of Camp Hill, Alabama is handling arrangements.