Marshall Ward was one of the most creative people that I have ever met in my life.

Painter, artist, filmmaker, writer, podcaster … the list goes on.

His sudden death on December 3rd, at the age of 52, unexpectedly, leaves a hole in many hearts, including mine.

Yet, growing up in the same city — Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario — and being exactly the same age, we never met as teenagers with similar interests, which included comic books and professional wrestling. He was always at ringside for WWF shows at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium — as was I — though I don’t remember ever camping out overnight for tickets like Marshall did.

It wasn’t until 2007, both of us established in our careers, and both with young children, that we got to know each other. It progressed quickly from SlamWrestling’s Dave Hillhouse writing about Marshall’s movie on “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant called Live for Sunday, to Marshall writing for SlamWrestling.

What started as a review here or there, since that was what he could fit into his schedule as an artist/stay-at-home dad — like me — grew. It progressed from there to the point I often assigned him some of the truly primo interviews for the site, since I knew he’d deliver and he’d be over the moon in excitement to talk to some of his heroes. [See the archive here.]

Especially with those question and answer sessions with the likes of Michael “PS” Hayes, Terry Taylor and Nikita Koloff, he was so well prepared that anyone reading them would see that … and read that.

But there was far more than that.

Marshall did a column in the Waterloo Chronicle newspaper and, until the last few years, was allowed to write about whatever he fancied. That was often my work, whether it was my books or the site. He even did a piece on my Dad, Jim Oliver, and his stamp collecting. I owe Marshall a debt for putting me over in my hometown.

As did one of his best friends, Colin Hunter, who many know from To me they are intertwined. While working on this piece, Colin told me that he met Marshall “in a lineup to get Ozzy Osbourne’s autograph about 25 years ago.” How wild is that?

Marshall Ward and one of his subjects.

Marshall Ward and one of his subjects.

In 2010, I got to go to an art show of Marshall’s in Waterloo, Life: An Exhibition of New Works on Paper, with one of my best friends. That led, in part, to SlamWrestling poaching Colin Hunter from Pro Wrestling Illustrated for some projects. Established journalists adding their bonafides to our site.

Marshall was a go-to guy for many things, like WWF LJN figures. I’d often run movie-related things past Marshall too. He knew his stuff, and was curious about things he didn’t know.

In more recent years, Marshall drifted away from SlamWrestling, as he took a so-called “real” job in administration at a private institution, the K-W Bilingual School  — but when the site was moving from Postmedia off on our own, where I knew we’d be able to showcase images far better, I held onto his amazing feature on the posters from “Bearman” Dave McKigney shows. Amazing images need amazing play.

It was truly wrestling, and always wrestling, that was in his heart, said his older brother David Ward: “That was his thing, from a very, very early age. I mean, the same way I was with hockey only he took the wrestling. And he just loved everything about it and obviously never let go of that.” (There’s another tie-in too, as David Ward had his book launch for The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching for My Hockey Hero about Jim Harrison in Waterloo, so I got to see Marshall there.)

Marshall liked to paraphrase Bret Hart on pro wrestling: “There’s something beautiful about this brotherhood of men [and sisterhood of women] who try to simulate violence, but do their best to take care of each other,” adding that was a very “eloquent” way of looking at the sport.

As an artist, Marshall loved the emotional buildup between the fan and the wrestlers. When Ric Flair lost to Shawn Michaels in his final match (ha!) at WrestleMania 24, Marshall said he fell “head over heels” for the bout, and rewatched it not long ago, as it reminded him why he loved wrestling. “You feel so alive in there,” he told Shelby-Liza Ndumbi of SlamWrestling in an unpublished interview.

Sara Geidlinger (left) and Marshall Ward (right) get into the spirit of things.

Most recently, Marshall moved into the podcasting world, winning awards with photographer and musician Sara Geidlinger for Bonn Park which, starting in 2019, celebrated K-W personalities and stories. “None of this podcasting would be possible without Marshall and who he is. He is this boots-on-the-ground kind of community relatable person,” Geidlinger told Ndumbi.

Fascinated by Marshall’s love of wrestling, Geidlinger wanted to know more and the result was another podcast, An Unscripted Spectacle, where a series of wrestling personalities and journalists try to explain to Sara the appeal of the squared circle.

And that phrase just stopped me.

In the end, isn’t that what life is about, our circle of family and friends?

I was fortunate to have been in Marshall Ward’s circle for many years — just not as many as we coulda, woulda, shoulda.

I’ll miss you, Marshall.

Marshall Ward is survived by his children Mason and Sullivan. As his obit reads, “He was a consummate stay-at-home dad through their childhoods, and he was happiest when exploring favourite local places like the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market with his kids and wife Sylvia, his high school sweetheart.” He is also survived by his siblings Cathy, David and Deb, and was predeceased by his big sister Wendy.

Marshall was an animal lover, including the diverse menagerie of household pets, so the family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo & Stratford Perth at There will be a drop-in celebration of life for Marshall on Tuesday, Dec. 19, between 4pm and 7pm, at Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King St. S., Waterloo.

The full obituary is here.