The Honorable (ret.) Bradford J. Ward, 78, of West Hartford, passed away peacefully on August 19, 2023 following a lengthy illness. Born March 3, 1945, in Hartford, CT, to Edward J. and Pauline (Silverman) Ward, Brad was a lifelong Connecticut resident. He attended Conard High School in West Hartford (class of 1963) before graduating with honors from Clark University in 1967. In 1970, Brad graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law, was admitted to the Connecticut bar, and met his future wife, Janet. Brad and Jan married in 1971 and spent 52 years together, raising their two daughters, affectionately dubbed “Exhibit A” and “Exhibit B” by Brad, before enjoying their empty nest. In recent years, Brad and Jan could most often be found in one of their favorite spots: Kennebunkport, ME, their upstate NY camp, and Bonita Springs, FL, where they regularly took in a Red Sox spring training game.
Brad dedicated his career to public service. He began his legal career by serving as a special assistant public defender in the circuit court system, where he served as an administrator of the experimental expansion of public defender services in the fifteenth and seventeenth circuits. After a brief stint as an assistant attorney general, Brad was hired to be the assistant chief prosecuting attorney of the circuit court of Connecticut. Later, he served as deputy chief prosecuting attorney, prosecuting attorney, and chief prosecutor of the Statewide Organized Crime Investigative Task Force, then located in Meriden, CT.
In 1975, Brad took a position as an assistant state’s attorney in the Waterbury Judicial District, eventually rising to the position of part A supervisory assistant state’s attorney. During his time in Waterbury, Brad prosecuted or participated in the prosecution of dozens of serious and notable cases, including the 1979 robbery and murder of two security guards at Purolator Security, Inc. He also served briefly as acting state’s attorney in both Litchfield and Middlesex Counties.
In 1996, Brad was nominated to serve as a superior court judge, a position he was particularly well-suited for given his demeanor and professional experience. His inherent sense of fairness, affability, knowledge of the law, and calm but firm nature made him a well-respected and admired jurist by colleagues, members of both sides of the bar, and those who appeared before him. He presided over mostly criminal and juvenile matters in the Hartford and New Britain Judicial Districts before retiring in early 2020.
Above all else, Brad was an extremely devoted and loving husband, son, dad, and grandpa whose opinions, advice, and witticisms—accompanied by a waggling finger or maybe even two, if you really got him going—on a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, Hartford area history and politics, real estate, cars, the price of gas, interest rates, and the weather, will be sorely missed. Indeed, they already are. Having overcome rheumatic fever as a child, two rounds of colon cancer mid-life, and innumerable complications over the last two years as he endeavored to recover from an acquired brain injury, he was a determined, unassuming, and stalwart fighter to the end. Brad was a dear and much adored man whose life touched so many.
Brad leaves behind his wife, Janet; his two daughters and their families: Stacy and her husband, Michael; Katie and her husband Ben; his grandchildren, Benji and Tessa, whom he adored; and his loyal childhood friend, the Honorable Henry S. Cohn. The family wishes to thank the staff at West Hartford Health and Rehabilitation for their tremendous care and for the many kindnesses they showed Brad and his family.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Cathedral of Saint Joseph, 140 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT, on Thursday, August 24, at 1:30 p.m. Burial will be private. Calling hours will be held on Wednesday, August 23, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Sheehan Hilborn Breen Funeral Home, 1084 New Britain Avenue, West Hartford. In lieu of flowers, donations in Brad’s honor can be made to the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, 227 South Main Street, West Hartford, CT, 06107 or https://noahwebsterhouse.org/donate. Online condolences may be made at www.SheehanHilbornBreen.com