Remembrances: John A. Ward III

Alumni remember their colleague and the late president
of the Chase Alumni Association. Click here for his In Memoriam

Please send remembrances to

(Newest entries at top)

From Gary Olson (11/20/22): He was a great man, but I am getting old and was so impressed with the comments from all of us. I actually know and worked with and respected 95% of them. Nice to know some of us are still here.


From Brahm Nirgunarthy (10/23/22): My association with John spans the more than 25 years I worked at Chase and also at American Express, where I worked in the Personal Financial Services group. I always found him to be a very dynamic and energetic executive. May his soul Rest In Peace.

From Heinz and Frigga Rahlves (10/23/22): With great sadness we heard about the death of John. He was was my functional boss in global trade finance in the late 1970s and the European credit center in the early 1980s.
     John and I had a long, professional and good relationship. We both left the Chase Group in the late 1980s.
     Our last meeting with John was during the fall 2013 CAA event in NYC, since we did not made it back into town, since our son moved from New York to California in 2014.
     We will keep him in our hearts and memory , as “part of the good old times” at Chase. John – rest in peace.
From Bill Kaufmann (10/17/22): Very sad – a great guy, an exceptional executive – talented, thoughtful and fun...thanks, John....Bill

From Ed Baum (10/16/22): So many of us remember John as a unique and unstoppable force. In the early 1990s, we had the pleasure of working together when John took the reins of Personal Financial Services, Chase’s nationwide jumbo mortgage business. It marked a major change of roles for John — from running the credit risk function for Art Ryan’s Individual Bank to heading up a business (He had clients! He had his own P&L!). He took to the new challenge with an energy, flair and drive that rode PFS to new heights of success. He questioned practices, pushed for change and made us all better along the way. 
     And of course John made sure that we laughed a lot together, too. As serious, thoughtful and smart as he was, John had a mischievous, playful side that made for a brand of leadership that was engaging and unforgettable. We were lucky to call him our boss and our friend. 

From Gene Marshall (10/152/22): My most sincere condolences to John's family. So sad. May his soul be at peace forever!
From Bob Mathews (10/11/22): John Ward had a magnetism and an enthusiasm for life one could sense from the first day one met him. We were all young when I first met John and Denise working in Chase Tokyo in 1975, which was a great adventure. I was fortunate to get to know them better working for him in the early 1980s in London, which provided an opportunity to appreciate his understanding and insight into Europe, international banking and human nature. Thereafter we stayed in touch as friends, and I followed the evolution of his long career as he made the transition back into the U.S. markets and eventually to a position at American Express where his unique and broad experience  and relationships were invaluable. Thereafter, he asked the right questions to deal with decision making at various Board meetings. Throughout his career, he was a leader by example and a person who exerted a powerful influence over a wide array of associates and loyal friends. The outpouring of remembrances by Chase Alumni articulate his many admirable personal qualities and are a testament to the positive impact of his life on others. We were lucky to have him as long as we did. Goodbye old friend. You will be missed.  

     My sympathies to Denise, Andrew and Allison.

From Joe Salsberry (10/10/22): A very, very good friend, always! Known since the Trade days. Made fun of him for quoting Gore Vidal, but he was always ALWAYS there for me. Always ALWAYS returned my phone calls. Great leader, loyal, a friend. Many, many good memories.
     Peace to Denise, Allison, and Andrew.
     Rest easy.
From John Sellers (10/10/22): John was a fine example of banking when it was an honorable profession. RIP.
From Jim Adamson (10/10/22): As Stephen Mueller recalls, the Tony T credit class of 1969 brought together people whose friendship lasted a lifetime. I was very surprised and saddened by the recent announcement that John's lifetime had recently ended, but our friendship will last forever. After completing our credit training and departing to the world of corporate finance, our paths crossed many times, first in New York and then in London and Tokyo and then again in London and New York.
     Each time carries a particular story with it, but my favorite memory of John was while he ran the Tokyo branch.
He talked me into passing by Tokyo on my way to Australia to meet with some of his petroleum clients, none of whom needed any financing and in fact didn't trust banks, particularly American ones. Despite that, we had two or three pleasant lunches, drank a lot of sake and bowed a lot. I had to catch a flight to make my appointment in Perth but, as the weekend was imminent, John suggested that he, I and Denise should spend the weekend in Osaka at a ryokan David R had recommended to him.
     On arrival we were met by a mama-san who relieved us of our western outer garments and issued us each a kimonos. We were then shown to a two-story wooden structure in the garden and told this was to be our "family home". The ground floor was the sitting room and the bedrooms were on the second floor, full of cushions and floor mats. The toilet facilities were in a separate structure attached to the back of the bedroom and consisted of a "squat" toilet over a 30 cms pipe that ran down the side of the building to a pit below.– very authentic Japanese, but the aerodynamics of the situation were such that the updraft through the pipe was stronger than gravitation force downward, resulting in one's kimono billowing up above one's head and making it virtually impossible to urinate.
     John and I then went looking for the bath house but were told all "families" had to bathe together. At that point Denise objected so we never did get to experience a traditional Japanese bath house.
     This was only one of the many adventures I had with John, the latest being here in Portugal in 2016 when Wolfgang brought the Chase group here for a visit.
  Goodbye John. It was great knowing you - we'll see you on the other side.
From Eric Hasselman (10/9/22): John A. Ward III (aka JAWS) and I started work at Chase 50 years ago and were personally and professionally close all that time. After 30+ years at Chase, we both joined American Express International Bank, where he was CEO and I was Chief Credit Officer and his de facto deputy. John eventually brought some 70 officers and staff from Chase to American Express Bank, so it was a little like old home week.
     John had so many fine qualities, not the least of which was his iron-clad adherence to honesty and integrity in management and policy matters. There were some questions he always needed answers to when considering a transaction: Does this deal make credit sense and comply with Chase standards? Does the deal meet Chase's moral code, and will the deal harm the client, its employees or local communities?
     After working in Chase's International Division, John joined the Community Retail Banking division. He was CEO of several very large subsidiaries (jumbo mortgages, credit cards, domestic small business and middle market lending). At American Express, he covered all lines of business which were 100% international. Despite the complexity of it all, he maintained his great sense of humor and adventure. Many of you have heard stories of his adventures, yet he always maintained his very high standards. He was sincerely respected and admired for his business and financial genius. He could turn marginal transactions into great transactions with his mentorship and personal advice to individual officers and lines of business.
     I will always be close to John and will respect and miss him forever.
     Libby and I extend our deepest condolences to Denise, Alison, Andrew and their families.
From Debra Decker (10/8/22): I am grateful to John for introducing me to Chase Bank in London. I had recently graduated from Wharton with an MBA, and he was in the Wharton alumni directory for London. I was following my husband to England and looking for a new job. John kindly arranged a meeting for me with what was at the time the Europe and Middle East office in London and I ended up working on strategic planning at Chase for Yoram Kinberg. I learned much from John, Yoram and Bob Hunter, who ended up heading the office as it reorganized. Europe had a great group of leaders in a challenging time, and I don’t think I ever thanked him (or them) for support in my early career. Sending cosmic thanks!
From Ottho Heldring (10/6/22): My first memory John was in the early 1980s when he was with Chase in London. From 1998 to 2001, I knew him when we were both at American Express Bank (he as CEO). I spent many years with him on the board of the Chase Alumni Assciation (he as President, I as Treasurer). I quite admired his dedication and enthusiasm. He was a natural leader, very sociable and fun. He leaves a big void. I'll miss him. 
From Stephen Mueller (10/5/22): I doubt anyone who met John could forget him. We first met as 1968 Summer interns after first year MBA and subsequently in the infamous 1969 Chase first all-MBA Special Development Global Credit Program. After several months (of an 18-month program) in classroom training, I recall John, Chet Brauch, Jim Adamson and perhaps others declaring "enough training - we want to go straight to the pit referrals” and finish the program. I believe they all passed. We spent many lunches always debating issues – rarely agreeing – but remaining friends. As a devout capitalist he was wary of my UC Berkeley roots. Later our paths crossed in Tokyo, where John was determined to add discipline to global Japanese Trading Company credit exposure management. Always with an eye on strategy as well as tactics, he succeeded. He studied Japanese character and management style and happily shared insights that proved valuable to me in my West Coast outpost with growing Asian presence. Years later in the early 1980s, we caught up again on my re-visit to London, where we shared a delightful lively dinner conversation, with Denise and John the gracious hosts. Social media kept us in contact with lively bouncing barbs and humor over the last few years. So glad for the 55- year relationship. My heartfelt condolences go out to Denise, children and families.
From Cyrus K. Hui (10/5/22): We had known John and Denise since our Tokyo days 1974-79, close as part of "Chase Family", then in London, having kept up through all these years when visiting New York. John will always be remembered as kind, generous and lots of fun.
From John Oakes (10/5/22): So sorry to hear that John has died. In the early part of our careers, we were in the Credit Department together, and we were team leaders in Chase Tokyo. Later, we both were Division Executives in the Trade & Export Finance group. 
     Our families spent happy times together in Tokyo, often along with Frank Osborne and Cyrus and Shirley Hui. One quick story: Attempting to bridge the culture gap in Japan, John would often spell out his last name to new Japanese customers. He would say: "It's Ward; W-A-R-D, as in dog." And on more than a few occasions, the new customer would say: "Glad to meet you, Mister Wardog."
     Our career paths diverged, but we stayed in touch occasionally. John was among the smartest people I knew in life. He was a principled man with a finely developed sense of right and wrong. He had, as many others have said, a wonderful sense of humor. And he was a fine human.
     Wishing comfort to Denise, his children and extended family.
     Rest easy, my friend.
From Art Ryan (10/5/22): It is with tremendous sorrow that I write this memorial. John was a wonderful person with the perfect blend of serious intellect and a great sense of humor. He will be missed.
From Paul Simpson (10/5/22): John was an extraordinary person and he made us all better. He had many gifts. He had a way of finding time for any of his friends or colleagues, no matter how busy he was. He had the highest integrity; he never sacrificed his values to be part of a compromise he did not believe was the right thing to do. He always gave it to us straight, and he had a way of doing that without being offensive or hurting anyone’s feelings. If he was discussing a matter with someone who disagreed with him, he would ask: “Could you give me an example.” I never saw John lose an argument following that opening. He still had his sense of humor during phone calls we had just a couple of months ago. He had a very big heart and a great sense of humor. He was an outstanding leader and business partner for the people to whom he reported. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to work with him and to be his friend. I will miss him very much.
From last fall's tribute to mentors, sent by an anonymous former employee:
From Bill Coulter (10/4/22): John and I were born just days apart and I was most fortunate to have John as a friend and a mentor during our time together at Chase.
     Our friendship began in 1973 when we first met at Chase. Shortly thereafter, John and Denise moved to Tokyo and Cheryl and I moved to London. We reconnected a few years later when Cheryl and I moved to Hong Kong and I visited Tokyo. Little did I know at the time that two years later Cheryl and I would return to London when John hired me, along with David Banks, to establish and mange the UK Export Finance Division. John was a great person to work for, as he gave me all the support I needed to staff my team and to navigate the matrix management complexities within Chase.
     More recently, when we both retired, I continued to enjoy John’s company in Florida, Spring Lake and Manhattan. Our last meeting was a delightful lunch in Florida that Cheryl and I shared with John and Denise.  
From David Weisbrod (10/4/22): A big shock and a great loss. I worked closely with John over a long career, John, of course, was a talented banker, but he was much more – an effervescent spirit and a loyal and trusted colleague. I remember when John went over to Amex and I was going through the stress of one of the mergers. John told me I could have a job at Amex at any time, and I know he meant it. His words and support were so helpful and generous in spirit. We will miss you very much, John!
From Joanne Doucette Ivie (10/4/22): John was my mentor and dear friend. He hired me out of the bowels of NYP 1 Letters of Credit in 1981 to join his Trade Finance Team in London, which changed my life. He was the type of manager that all managers should strive to be: allowing both camaraderie and fun while working hard to achieve goals and objectives. He would say he made me a star. And he did – slong with many other individuals who were lucky enough to be part of his team.
     Over the years we have shared so many laughs about life. He would always tell me he was a "simple man with simple tastes", which would make me laugh every time. I will miss him dearly.  
From Gene Berry (10/4/22): Sorry to hear about the passing of John. Quite a shock. My condolences to John's family. He will be in my prayers.
     John was involved with our loan requests in Private Banking. It was always fun when John and our clients got together for lunch at 410 Park.
     I will personally miss John since our birthdays are only weeks apart and for years we exchanged birthday wishes. 
     John-Rest in Peace-you were a valuable mentor to many and you will be 
greatly missed.

From Pascal Boris (10/4/22): I was shocked and saddened to learn of the premature passing of John.

     I had the privilege of having John as a boss on two occasions, first in Trade and Export Finance in Europe and New York and then as a senior credit officer in Switzerland for European commodity finance and private banking.
     He taught me many things, both from a technical point of view but more importantly about human nature. He was a demanding boss who brought out the best in his staff. 
     His mischievous sens of humour was contagious.
     We met regularly when I traveled to New York and on the rarer occasions when he would be in London. I will miss him.


From D. Sykes Wilford (10/4/22): John was a true gentleman who helped in many ways for me to transition in life from the corporate world to my academic life. His advice always sits in my ears. I pray for his family and like many will remember his larger-than-life presence.  
From Lynn Giuffre (10/4/22): There are no words to fully express my sorrow, sympathy and gratitude for the privilege, honor and good fortune to have known John Ward.
     He was, (as has been stated many times) bigger than life, smart, funny, courageous; a leader with high standards driven by goals and values designed to communicate, educate and achieve. John was one of those people who made you want to be a better person. I am a better person and I know his influence and now his legacy will continue to serve me and many others well beyond the classroom, boardroom and life. 
From Neil Sweeny (10/3/2022): What a loss!! When I saw his name "In Memoriam", it was a major punch to the gut.  
     I first knew John when I was in London in the Commodity Finance Division, and in the ensuing years John and I kept in touch as we were able. He was a wonderful guy and is one of many of the old Chase that I will remember with great fondness.  
     Heartfelt condolences to his family. He will be sorely missed by us all!
From Janice DiMarino (10/3/22): John had a bigger than life personality and at first blush could be very intimidating, as he was when I first met him. He was in Credit, and I was supporting a credit with Gary Glick and Dean McFail of PFS. When we left the meeting, I swore I could never work for him. I was wrong. Shortly thereafter, John became President of PFS. I found him to be very capable, enthusiastic and energetic. Pushing everyone to be their best and to work hard and smart as he did. I admired him and grew to call him friend. He was tough but kind. Very caring, generous and a good leader. A friend. He could always make me smile. You will be missed my friend.
From Tony Lord (10/2/22): While we were both Global Credit trainees in 1969, we never actually found ourselves working together.  But when Chet, Hans and yours truly basically found our lives focused on the West Coast, we knew we were leaving the future (and growth) of the Chase Alumni Association, in the exceptionally capable hands of the CAA Board at that time – including John. John was the perfect person to encourage and broaden the scope and the appeal of the CAA.
     Great guy, so sad!
From Michel Lagoutte (10/2/22): John Ward’s business was climbing mountains, preferably tall mountains. John was very good at it. He could spot dangerous steps and find a way, find the best way up. And so, to climb mountains, you wanted John Ward in the lead. He was demanding, relentless even, unbearable often and supportive always.
     And now, very sadly John Ward is gone. But not the memories. A lot of great memories.
    Thank you, John.
From Bill Flanz (10/2/22): When I opened the Chase Alumni email to see John’s picture and learn of his passing, I was shocked. I can think of few people more lively than John, and somehow never imagined a world without him.  
     When I moved to Tokyo in 1973, I arrived to find John heading up Team A, one of our corporate relationship management teams. John’s team was responsible for our global lending relationships with some of Japan’s largest trading companies and other multinationals.
     John was about 26 years old, and I, his boss, was not much older. Those were the days when Chase was expanding rapidly overseas and did not have enough experienced bankers willing to be sent abroad to a far distant land, so positions were filled with those of us with a sense of adventure and deemed to have “potential”. From John’s biographical description one can see he certainly lived up to Chase’s early expectations of his potential. 
     John made his impact in Japan where he proved himself an outstanding banker and team leader. His loud, animated voice and laughter were always present on the banking floor as John exclaimed his reaction to something he just learned or made a request clear to one of his team members. 
     I shall always treasure my memories of John, who certainly made my own life richer and better through an important friendship which lasted 49 years.

From Giacinto Giuliani (10/2/22): May John rest in peace. A prayer.

From Rosemary Palazzo (10/1/22): With Heartfelt Sympathy. My deepest condolences go out to the Ward family. I was so fortunate to have worked in PFS under the leadership of John Ward. We were truly a family. John Ward’s legacy will remain forever in our hearts.

From Sonia Dias (10/1/22): I am truly saddened - we have lost a great human being. John exemplified extraordinary leadership in so many ways. I was fortunate to work in two organizations he ran: Personal Financial Services (PFS) and Chase Cardmember Services. In both organizations, John had a huge impact, taking us to top positions and with PFS a finalist for The Malcolm Baldridge Award. John demanded excellence, pushed us to advance, worked hard himself and cared about his employees. One of the many ways he demonstrated his genuine concern for his employees was at the first WTC bombing; he was the last one to leave after making sure every Chase employee had left the building!  

     As busy and as senior as he was, he was also a great mentor and ALWAYS made time for you. Once he left Chase, he never forgot you and was always trying to bring people together just as he did with the CAA. In 2018, he initiated and sponsored a PFS reunion that brought together hundreds of colleagues from across the country. John was not only brilliant, as can been seen by his many accomplishments, but also an inspirational leader, a genuine good human being with a big heart (that he sometimes intentionally kept hidden) and, of course, someone with a wonderful sense of humor – a rare combination that will be missed by so many of us.
     May he now rest in peace and know how many lives he touched and how grateful we are and always will be that he was part of our lives. He will be missed. My deepest condolences to his family. 


From Hans van den Houten, CAA Chair Emeritus (10/1/22): The news about John’s passing reached me yesterday in the Netherlands. It was a total surprise, as I was not aware that he was ill with lung cancer. I first became  acquainted with him in 1969, when he became part of the team I headed in the east side Credit department of Chase. We did not meet again until much later in our careers, as John moved abroad and I left Chase for other responsibilities with several companies.
     The CAA was started in London and when I returned to New York, Chet Brauch and I started the CAA on a broader scale than the late Pierre Borel and I had initiated in London. After I succeeded Chet as President in 1990 or so, John joined our Board as Vice President. He was a supportive member of our team of Directors, involved in the broadening of our membership, and very active in getting former and current senior officers of Chase to join our organization of alumni or to recognize the importance of this alumni organization.
     In 2005, John became President of the CAA following my retirement and departure from New York. John was active, not only with the Board issues in New York but also present at the multiple gatherings of CAA members in Europe and the United States. He showed his leadership and brought more recognition to our organization through frequent involvement of senior officers of what is now JPMorgan Chase. Under his leadership, former employees of various banks now under the umbrella of the aforementioned bank were attracted to the CAA and joined. 
     Despite my retirement, I was able to work with John and his Board to arrange for a few outings in the Netherlands and the USA. He always supported those involved with his unfailing participation in these events.
     We will miss John and his leadership and support of the CAA. I send my deep-felt condolences to Denise, her daughter and her son and wish them support through the plentiful memories of her husband and father. 
From Manuel Peña-Morros (10/1/22): John and I met when he was stationed in Japan and I was in Panama managing the multinational portfolio, with the bulk in a Japanese trading company. At the time there was a slight scuffle with the Head Office's Sal Catalano, who managed some of the Japanese relationships. This allowed John to spend two days in Panama in 1975 to visit the Japanese companies and for such occasion, we offered a cocktail party at the Club Union. Our second business involvement came in 2007, when John was Chairman of Doral Bank in Puerto Rico and I was invited to become a Board member. Our final encounter was in 2019 during the Chase Annual Alumni meeting in New York. Throughout the years, we always kept in touch via social media.
     John was a gentleman, an admirable professional, a tough competitor and a true Chase representative. May he rest in peace.
From Don Chaffee (10/1/22): I had the opportunity to work with John in London when he was the Credit Executive. While others have testified to his larger than life persona I was very impressed with his larger than life heart. John was a mentor and advisor to many people, at all levels, throughout the organization and for that matter, the world.  
From Maria V. Trinidad (10/1/22): I am shocked to hear of the death of John Ward. He was and will always be our Super Star at the Chase Alumni Association. I will never forget his immense sense of humor whenever we all met during different events and travels. He was a great listener and wanted to make sure that we were having a good time. John Ward was a very special person. He will be missed. 
     To his wonderful and great wife, Denise, who is our Angel and so caring and lovable with every one of us, and to his Son and Daughter and Grandchild, I share your sorrow during these difficult and sad times. May all your cherished memories, though they may bring a tear, comfort your aching heart and keep you loved one near. With Deepest Sympathy In the Loss Of Your Husband, Father, Grandfather and our Greatest Colleague and friend, John Ward.
From Paul Walker (10/1/22): I was very upset to learn of the passing of John Ward. John was not only a very capable banker but a man of great honesty and loyalty. John was a very reliable associate who always was fair and decisive. Also he was a true friend with great sense of humor. John will be missed by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him. 
From Ralph Aiello (10/1/22): John was a true leader. His death is a great loss to the Alumni Association.
From Jean Marc Bara (9/30/22): I only knew John by name while working at Chase, as our paths did not cross there. I got to know John when he joined the Chase Alumni Association’s Board as President and for the following nine years while I served on the Board. John was very dedicated to the CAA, constantly pushing for ways to grow the membership and pulling the right strings on his extensive network of friends and business associates to benefit the CAA. Paraphrasing Ken Jablon in the In Memoriam, John was larger than life both in height, presence and talent. This was particularly useful at the semi-annual Chase cocktails, where most would be challenged to garner the attention of a crowd of long-time friends who had not seen each other for six months or more. 
     After I left the CAA Board, I continued to look forward to catching up with John at the various CAA events and when we traveled to different international CAA reunions, where my wife, Marianne, and I also got to know and enjoy the company of Denise, John’s wife. I will miss John, his incredible sense of humor and his heartfelt political views.  
     Marianne and my thoughts are with Denise, her daughter, her son and their families.
From Phil Sorace (9/30/22): I never had the opportunity to have worked directly with John; we brushed shoulders from time to time at CMP and in London and Tokyo. He was always engaging and genuine at those times. It was much later, when we had both left Chase, that we met again at a Manhattan bar (I can’t recall where) where a roaring group of former Chase International bankers gathered in homage of the old “British Watering Hole" concept. It was from those gatherings that the Chase Alumni Association grew to what it is today. Thanks to John’s tenacity, vision, and passion, so ably assisted by others – many of whom were recruited by him – the CAA is a global institution that celebrates the men and women from all the legacy institutions that constitute JPMorgan Chase. To say he will be missed is an understatement. To John’s wife and family I offer my sincere condolences with the knowledge they shared in a life well lived. 
From Gary Olson (9/30/22): John was my real first boss in Tokyo many many years ago. Thank you for everything, John. My prayers and wish that you are even happier in heaven. Will miss you. George Perry, John Philpot, Tim McGinnis, Don Chafee and John Ward will always be what I remember from a fun career at the old Chase.
From Bob Mitchell (9/30/22): Very sad news! He and I were junior officers together back in the old ‘David’ days. My fullest sympathy to Denise.
From Randy J. Schafer (9/30/22): I remember John from several meetings – both as a colleague at the bank and as a member of CAA. A very decent human being, very strong presence, exuded leadership in all personal and group interactions. A life well-lived.
From Tony Singleton (9/30/22): Sad news indeed. Our condolences to Denise and family. We will always remember our trip together to Holland with Chase Alumni and his dedication to the program. He will never be forgotten.   


Sent by Ottho Heldring: John at The Colony, Palm Beach, FL, in March 2017: