The continuous rebuilding of things — from computer equipment to the lives of four-legged creatures — has transplanted a local self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles to the quiet of Muskogee.
Although some can make the claim to being a prince of profession, Tim Ward has the extended experience to validate the title. For instance, the time when, during a bicycle ride across the Oregon/California border, he stopped and assisted with fighting a wildfire for a couple of days.
Ward developed his diverse talents early in life and acquired most in an auto-didactic fashion. His love for electronics started early in high school, but he surpassed the level of the class — and the school — quickly, graduating with his diploma in the second semester of his sophomore year.
His love for animals was intrinsic to him even as a small child, and he put that love to work on the family dog, Bobby, a small terrier with an attitude problem. Ward said he was the only one in the family to whom Bobby would listen, and he eventually became the only one who could handle him.
“I try to act like their type, I guess,” Ward said. “I thought about being a vet a long time ago, but it would take a lot of work now. I like doing a lot of different stuff, and I’m always looking at how things work, and I prefer hands-on training. I could probably become a vet if I wanted to, but I can’t sit in a classroom for that long.”
Ward is best known around Muskogee for his three-legged Anatolian shepherd mix, Woody, whom he brings to local events for children (and grown-ups) to interact with.
Meet Tim Ward
HOMETOWN: Muskogee and Los Angeles.
CAREER: Facilities maintenance at Los Dios Veterinary Hospital.
EDUCATION: Grade school, high school, and some college; “School of Hard Knocks.”
FAMILY: Mom lives in Muskogee; sister lives in California; father died a few years ago.
CHURCH: Raised Catholic.
HOBBIES: Playing with a little bit of everything.
and tasting fame
Things didn’t start too well for Woody, a dog who was wandering around the Hulbert area one day and was shot in the leg by someone who was trying to kill him.
“The owner brought him in and wanted him fixed up, but couldn’t pay for it,” Tim Ward said. “I first met him out in the pens behind our building. I went in and checked him out, and you could see that his leg was useless.”
Ward said that when he opened the door to the pen, the big dog limped over to him and sat in his lap, and the rest was history.
“Another person wanted to give him a home, but I had taken a liking to him,” Ward said with a smile. “I took him home, and he fit in just great with Munchkin, my other dog at the time.”
That was five years ago, and Woody has become a local celebrity. Ward said he’s never run across anyone who didn’t like the 120-pound dog.
“If you study the history of Anatolians, usually they aren’t found around people,” he said. “They’re up in the hills guarding flocks. But for some oddball reason, he decided he liked people. He’s very mellow and outgoing.”
Ward has a digital photo album of Woody at several events in the Muskogee area. In each picture there are two constants: the perceived wagging of Woody’s tail, and smiles on the faces of everyone petting him.
“It’s gotten to the point where if I go by myself to a place I normally take him, people ask me where he is,” Ward said of Woody. “That’s kind of nice, knowing that I’ve been a part of raising such a good ‘kid.’”
Ward has preferred to remain behind the scenes when it comes to helping out. In the early 2000s, he was the provider of video equipment and even lent his hand in shooting the television show “A New Day,” which had Penny Kampf as its host and was shown on Muskogee public access channels.
“I remember being in Tahlequah for what was supposed to be a short hot-air balloon ride,” Ward said. “We were scheduled to go from the rodeo grounds to the Walmart parking lot, but if you know how those things work, you know you can’t control the horizontal movement of the balloon. We ended up wandering around Tahlequah for an hour and a half until the wind died down.”
The same is true of his current job, where he operates quietly behind closed doors doing anything from repairing the anesthesia machine to standing in on surgeries and lending a hand.
He admits that the job isn’t always glamorous, particularly cleaning up after the animals.
“It has to be done,” Ward said. “It doesn’t just come out and magically disappear the way some folks wish it would. It has to be done routinely.”
Ward is particularly proud of the ultrasound machine he is rebuilding for the clinic.
“When I bought it, it was sitting out under some trees in the rain,” he said. “The owner had bought it in an auction from the Veterans Administration. Only someone like me would spot something like that. I stripped it down and rebuilt it in my driveway, then told my neighbors I was going to start doing driveway ultrasounds.”
The love of
Ward has an impressive collection of older technology that he has acquired over the years. Some of it he has rebuilt in a workshop that he also built.
“That’s kind of like my own private domain,” Ward said. “No one gets in without an invitation. I guess I’ve got an instinct for picking up how things work, taking them apart, and putting them back together. Sometimes taking something apart can be more of a pain than putting them back together.”
Newer technology doesn’t have as much appeal to Ward. He takes a special offense to the mention of a cellphone.
“I’m not bashful about it,” he said. “Everyone I know is constantly nagging me about getting a cellphone. I don’t want a cellphone. To me, a cellphone is a leash. No matter where you go, someone can always yank it (the leash). If someone needs to get in touch with me, they can call my house phone.”
Ward again referred to the ultrasound machine that he is rebuilding. He said he gets a lot of things like that from local hospitals that have to replace them with newer models.
“You can buy an ultrasound rig now that is a little probe which plugs into a laptop,” Ward said. “They cost around $6,000 to $10,000. When this was new, it cost around $100,000.
“I prefer older equipment because it works better — it’s more dependable.”
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
“I moved here in 1988.”
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR FREE TIME?
“I rebuild computer gear and electronic equipment.”
HOW DO YOU MAKE A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?
“Facility maintenance for Los Dios Veterinary Hospital.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
“There needs to be more things for people to do, and we could really use a couple of dog parks. We need to fix the roads as well.”
IS THERE AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE YOU ADMIRE?
“My boss, Dr. John Beal. We think alike.”
WHAT’S THE MOST MEMORABLE THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
“Being in the tornado a few years back that hit Fansteel. I was storm chasing at that time, and I watched it go right over my head.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?
“It’s a typical small town. A lot of people know other people’s goings on. It has a small-town attitude.”