William Ward Eshleman, a fixture in the South Florida marine industry who founded Ward's Marine Electric, died Saturday of pneumonia while in hospice care, according to family members.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share the passing of my father, founder of our company… He was one day past 96.5 years in age,” his son, Ward Eshleman II, wrote in a press release announcing his father’s passing.
“Ward grew the business from only himself to 20 employees upon his retirement in 1983. Originally the company's focus was strictly dockside marine electrical service. Through his vision the sales, engineering and engraving departments were formed, providing the path for our growth and success.”
The family patriarch was a Newark, N.J., native who moved to Fort Lauderdale in the late 1930s.
A public "Celebration of Life" Memorial Service will be held at the company’s Fort Lauderdale facility at 617 SW Third Ave. at 2 p.m. Saturday.