John E. Ewald
Barbara and Jack Ewald cut the cake at their wedding on June 16, 1962, with flower girl Cheryl Cernitch to the right. (Submitted photo / October 6, 2012)
He was involved in a demonstration against a Cumberland candy store because it wouldn’t serve black customers and many demonstrations in Washington against the Vietnam War, yet supported the troops, Barbara said.
“He was a great model and role model of service to the community, family and faith,” said John, who is superintendent of schools for the Laurel School District in Delaware and whose wife and father-in-law are pastors.
Despite the “24/7 job as a pastor”, Barbara said family always came first. Jack’s staff knew there were times in the office when the only thing they could interrupt Jack for was a phone call from one of his children.
“The kids always knew a death or emergency could take him away,” Barbara said. “No one ever complained.”
Barbara was an elementary school teacher and for a period, had a fairly long commute to work. With a flexible schedule, Jack made sure the children got off to school and was waiting for them when they got home, went on field trips and had dinner waiting for the family when Barbara got home from work.
Son David Ewald of Annapolis said his father even attended a father-daughter dance with David’s daughter when David was too sick to go.
“As kids, he went to every event,” David said. “He was the same way with the grandkids — games, plays, Grandparents’ Day.”
He said Jack was a quiet man, but insightful and always knew when to step in.
“He was just always there for us. He was always very patient — never short, never hurried, never rushed. He was always at our games in high school. Even with the craziness of his work schedule, he was always there,” said daughter Michelle Hurwitz of Hagerstown.
Jack had many hobbies, but John said he came to realize that most of the things that Jack was interested in were related to the family.
“We were his hobby,” John said.
Jack and Barbara traveled extensively and enjoyed their vacation house in The Woods, a golf community near Hedgesville, W.Va.
The Ewalds rented in Hagerstown for a year, then in 2010 moved to the Greenwich Park development, near their daughter and her family in Fairway Meadows in Hagerstown.
“He helped take care of the grandchildren. He was a very big part of their lives,” Michelle said. “The last night, he and my oldest daughter were talking about what homework she had.”
They appreciated their proximity to the John R. Marsh Cancer Center and Dr. Kass.
In April 2011, Jack was hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Hospital for seven weeks.
“It broke my heart that he was in and out of the hospital so much,” Barbara said.
Jack was offered experimental treatment, but the couple agreed that was not what they wanted.
“Our plan was to live each day the best as we could, never dreaming he would live to celebrate 50 years. It was a team effort — faith, family, doctors and him,” Barbara said. “It was a journey the entire family was involved in. His death was very much like his life.”
Jack loved music and at his funeral, three of the grandchildren sang and played guitar and violin to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a favorite of Jack’s, changing the opening lyrics to “Imagine there’s a heaven.” Two of the grandchildren read letters to their grandfather.
“His service was very sad, but because he planned it and because we’re all people of faith, it was wonderful,” John said. “It was a nice goodbye and celebration of his life.”
Editor’s note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered” is about John E. Ewald, who died Sept. 23 at the age of 71. His obituary was published in the Sept. 25 edition of The Herald-Mail.