Long Beach community leader Ellen Ward died at her Signal Hill home on Tuesday after a long fight against several types of cancer.
She was 78 years old.
Ward was known for serving on the board of directors for the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach for many years. She also founded AIDS Walk Long Beach and was its executive director for nine years, according to a press release.
“She is a legend in our community and has done so much to support the LGBTQ community and community at large,” said Porter Gilberg, executive director of the Center. “We feel blessed to have had her in our corner for so many years.”
In 1975 she opened the Que Sera bar, near Seventh Street and Cherry Avenue, owning and operating it for 23 years.
Her accolades within the community have included the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club’s Woman of the Year, Grand Marshal for the Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade, the Center’s 2015 Community Icon Award, and a LACE award from the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the release added.
Ward was also a member of the Signal Hill City Council for 12 years and a mayor for two years. She served on Signal Hill’s Parks & Recreation Commission and Civil Service Commission.
She also worked as a superintendent of Recreation for the City of Santa Ana, director of Community Services for the City of Paramount, deputy city manager for the City of Hawaiian Gardens, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Artesia and recreation of director for the County of Los Angeles.
According to the release, Ward died peacefully surrounded by her family, loved ones and beloved dogs Queenie and Snappy.
She is survived by her wife of 21 years Pat Crosby, son Don Jones and sister Marlene Carter.
A candlelight vigil in remembrance of Ward will be held Wednesday, August 12, at 8:00PM. The vigil will be held at Harvey Milk Promenade Park, 212 East 3rd Street, Long Beach.
In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations may be made in her name to The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, 2017 East 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814. Readers can click here to donate.
Top, left photo courtesy of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach.