John H. Ware IV remembered for his generosity and love for Oxford
● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford community said farewell to one of its most prominent citizens on Thursday, July 2 as friends and family gathered together for the memorial service for John H. Ware IV at the Oxford Presbyterian Church.
Ware passed away at his home on May 28, surrounded by his family and friends. He was 73.
He was remembered for his extraordinary generosity, which was great, and for his love of Oxford, which was even greater. During his lifetime, Ware offered significant financial support—estimated to be in the millions of dollars—to organizations in the Oxford area that were close to his heart. Most of these contributions were made anonymously.
He was a friend and supporter of many of the organizations that helped to improve the lives of the people of Oxford, including the Neighborhood Services Center, the Oxford Area Senior Center, the Jennersville YMCA, the Oxford Public Library, Oxford Mainstreet, Inc., the Lighthouse Youth Center, The Sacred Heart School, the Oxford Educational Foundation, and the fire company in Oxford. He was also a member of the Oxford Presbyterian Church.
“He was a wonderful, caring, and giving human being,” said Jim McLeod, a longtime friend. “He cared about people who needed help. His heart was in the Oxford area. He lived here and he believed in Oxford.”
The Ware family has had a prominent place in the Oxford community for decades. Ware's father, John Haines Ware III, was a successful businessman and politician who served as an executive with American Water and the Oxford Gas Company. He was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate for nine years and in the U.S. Congress from 1970 to 1975. John H. Ware IV continued this legacy of public service and focused his energies on Oxford.
“My father's love for the Oxford community ran very deep and he taught that to his children,” said his daughter, Nancy Ware Sapp, a few days after Ware passed away. “We were always taught to give back to the community that we live in. My father was a friend to everyone. He was the most generous man that I ever knew.”
During the eulogy, McLeod talked about how generous Ware was, particularly during the holiday season when non-profit organizations were desperate to meet all the needs in the community. Ware would meet with McLeod to find out about the good work that each organization was doing. As McLeod would talk about each individual non-profit, Ware would make notes—and smile. Because he knew that the organizations would be able to help so many others with the contributions.
Born on October 4, 1941 in Philadelphia, Ware was the son of the late Marian Snyder Ware of Lansdowne and the late John H. Ware III of Oxford. John attended Oxford Area High School, University of Pennsylvania, and Lincoln University.
Ware worked for Penn Fuel Gas Company of Oxford, served on the board of American Water Works, and was active in local organizations including the West Nottingham Township supervisors, Oxford Borough Council, and the Oxford Senior Center. John was an active member of the Oxford Foundation, and later founded the Oxford Area Foundation. He was a Boy Scout in his youth and was later a troop leader in Nottingham. He was a lifelong member of the Oxford Presbyterian Church.
Kerry Slinkard, the pastor of the Oxford Presbyterian Church said that this was an occasion to remember the work that Ware did, and the lives that he touched.
McLeod talked about how he and Ware bonded over their families—Ware would always ask about McLeod's family, and share information about his own family.
“His love of family was definitely something we shared,” McLeod explained.
McLeod got to know Ware's parents, and said that it was easy to tell that he got his fun personality and love of people from his mother and father. Ware also had an unforgettable sense of humor.
Paul Ware is five years younger than John, so he grew up listening to his brother make jokes. Paul said that John probably forgot more jokes than everybody else in the room ever knew. Paul said that part of John's legacy will be that people around him enjoyed the stories that he told.
Paul also talked about how John loved to read and also had a fondness for automobiles. He suspected that his brother only became a supervisor in Nottingham because he wanted to drive the snowplow.
McLeod talked about how his friend loved electronics, especially gadgets, and joked that Ware had a large flat screen television before they were even invented.
Ware was also a public servant, dedicating his energies to serving on the boards of various organizations in the Oxford area. He was a member of Oxford Borough Council, starting in 1992, for a total of 16 years, including six years when he was council president. He gave generously to the borough and its police department through the years.
“We're all just very saddened by his death,” said Oxford Borough Manager Betsy Brantner a few days after Ware passed away. “He was a kind and generous person who was willing to help anyone for any reason.”
Brantner said that when she was hired as the first female borough manager in Oxford history, Ware was always very supportive and willing to share his knowledge and help out in any way possible.
“He was always encouraging us to be the best community that we could be,” said Brantner. “He was an example of how to love and support a community.”
Brantner said that through the philanthropy and his work to support many Oxford organizations, Ware built a lasting legacy in the town that he loved.
“His thoughts were always for the Oxford community,” Brantner explained. “I can't say enough about the legacy that he leaves. Those things will live on, which means that he will live on.”
McLeod concluded his remarks by talking about how Ware made the community around him a better place through his willingness to help others.
“John Ware lived that ideal and believed in that ideal,” McLeod said. “For the 73 years that he lived on earth, he made it a better place.”
Ware is survived by three daughters, Karen Ware of Potomac, Md., Nancy Ware Sapp of Lititz, Pa., and Debra Kline of Pequea, Pa.; ten grandchildren; his brother Paul Ware; and sisters Marilyn Ware and Carol Ware. He was predeceased by his son, John Charles.
Donations can be made in Ware's memory to the Oxford Civic Association, P.O. Box 34, Oxford, PA 19363-0034 or the National Kidney Foundation, 30 East 33rd Street, New York, NY 10016. Online condolences can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org.