December 30, 1983

Willis Franklyn Ward

December 30, 1983
U of M Athlete
U of M Track Athlete (1932 - 1935)
U of M Football Player (1932 - 1935)
U of M Athletic Hall of Honor
Wayne County Probate Judge

Willis Franklyn Ward

University of Michigan Football Player, Track Athlete (1932 – 1935)

Willis Ward was born in Alabama and moved to Detroit as a young child. He attended Northwestern High School where he excelled in both track and football. As a high school junior, he was named Michigan High School Athlete of the Year setting a national prep record in the high jump.  He was the city champion in the low and high hurdles as well as the 200-yard dash.  He went on to the University of Michigan where he continued to excel in both sports, earning six varsity letters during his time with the Wolverines and was considered one of the greatest athletes in Michigan history.  While Ward was successful on the gridiron, he was even more successful on the track as he won Big Ten titles in the 100-yard dash, high jump and 400-meter dash in 1933, the long jump in 1934 and the high jump in 1935.  After his athletic career was over Ward earned his law degree and became a probate judge in Wayne County.  Willis Ward was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1981 and was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1981. He passed away on December 30, 1983 at 71 years of age.