George F Ward

George F. Ward in front of his undertaking business on Main Street

George Ward was born in Brockton, Massachusetts and, after leaving home in 1877, worked as a grocery clerk and then apprenticed as a carpenter. In 1882, he came to Riverside and took a job as a carpenter, and worked his way up into his own contracting business. In 1887, he built a modest one and one-half story frame cottage with a gabled roof at 2969 Mission Inn Avenue. Shortly after, however, the real estate market declined, and George Ward decided to change occupations.

George went east to learn his new profession and returned to Riverside after six months, opening an undertaking business on the east side of Main Street between Mission Inn Avenue and University Avenue. His unusual storefront not only offered undertaking services but also sold artists materials, picture frames, and glass.

In August 1890, George married Frances Raymond. They had one daughter, Eunice. That same year, Ward also succeeded James N. Keith as Riverside’s fire chief.

In 1895, Ward formed a partnership with W.H. Davis and they continued the firm until 1901, when Ward sold his interests. For the next two years, Ward was a partner in Cresmer & Ward, a planing mill business, and in 1905 he served as a building inspector at The Sherman Institute. In 1906, Ward returned to undertaking as senior partner in Ward, Amstutz & Glenn, which opened a Mission-style building on Mission Inn Avenue for the business.

From 1904 to May 14, 1907, Ward was a member of the Riverside board of trustees. He served until the May 14, 1907 election which passed a city charter for the town. In addition, Ward was active in several fraternal organizations in the city and he and his family belonged to the Congregational Church.