Ward Miles

Obituary of Ward Clarkson Miles

Born in Salem, Oregon, to Ross and Laura Miles on May 4, 1922, in an upstairs bedroom of a house later torn down to build the Oregon State Capital, Ward Clarkson Miles tried to live a life of service, stopping only with his death on April 15, 2023. During his century of living, he enjoyed the support of friends, colleagues, and family members.


In childhood, Ward worked on the family farm, when they had one and, with his brothers, stoked the fires and helped maintain the one-room schoolhouse where his mother, Laura Bell Miles, taught. In World War II, he served as a conscientious objector: first he fought forest fires in California; then he oversaw residents of the Pennsylvania State Mental Hospital at Byberry; and finally he became an employee and a deliberately-infected subject in a jaundice experiment. During that time, he met and in 1946 married Alice Calder, another person dedicated to service. Alice supported Ward wholeheartedly until her death in 2010.


Ward finished a degree in Sociology at Willamette University, then a degree in Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1954, he joined Seattle’s Group Health Cooperative, a new venture in medicine, as a General Practitioner. Besides his medical practice, Ward helped Group Health to open new facilities, including their Burien Clinic in 1964 and the Olympia Medical Center in 1972. He also took two years leave in 1968-1970 and moved with his family to Saipan to work as Staff Physician for the U.S. Peace Corps in Micronesia. There he did administration and tended to the health of Peace Corps volunteers, as well as doing shifts at the general hospital on Saipan. He retired from Group Health in 1985. He continued serving on the Group Health Foundation Board and in the State Health Coordinating Council.


Everywhere that Ward and Alice went, they involved themselves in Friends (Quaker) Meetings. Soon after their marriage, they helped start the Willamette Valley Quarterly Meeting. Later, with their young family, they were active in Seattle’s University Meeting. In Saipan, and later in Olympia, they often held Meeting in their home. The Olympia house gatherings became Olympia Meeting, a group that has been a great support to Ward.


Ward’s and Alice’s move to Olympia allowed them to expand activities that they loved doing. Their house on Henderson Inlet came with a small farm, where they raised chickens, sheep and ducks, along with fruits, vegetables and flowers. They also bought a canoe and a small Nordic tug and spent as much time as they could on the water, both alone and with friends.


When Ward was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, they sold their house on the water and, in 2001, moved to a house in Panorama City, a retirement community in Lacey. After Alice’s death, Ward moved several times within Panorama, finally into the Panorama Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center in 2018. There he found a group of lovingly supportive staff. They worked with his family and friends to help him stay active in Olympia Meeting and life in general. His family is forever grateful to all the people throughout his life who loved and supported him.


Ward is survived by sons, David (Hope Hensley) and Joel (Laura); daughter, Prudence (Ellen Taylor); son, Stuart Miles-McLean (Robin); grandchildren and step-grandchildren, Charity, Mosang, Frank, Hugh, Haley, Jacob, Nathaniel, Mark, Kaipo, Victor, Victoria; and several great-grandchildren.


There will be a joint memorial service for Ward and his second son, Joel Edward Miles, who died June 8, 2023. It will take place Saturday, October 21, 2023, 1:00 p.m. at Olympia Friends Meeting, 3201 Boston Harbor Road NE, Olympia, WA 98506. 


Those who would like to join a live stream broadcast through Zoom, please use the following link:


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1:00 pm
Saturday, October 21, 2023
Olympia Friends Meeting
3201 Boston Harbor Rd NE
Olympia, Washington, United States
(360) 561-7067
Joint memorial - also for Ward's second son, Joel Edward Miles, who died June 8, 2023.
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