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The Lake Pro: Our Neighbor Ward Angle

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

I first met Ward Angle at a Poker Run fundraiser for the Friends of Clayor Lake (FOCL), which started and finished at the Rock House Marina. When introduced, I was informed that Ward Angle was the first ever President of FOCL.

As we talked, Ward looked up Peak Creek and noted that he’d built quite of few of the docks along the shoreline. As it turns out, the reason Angle became the first FOCL president was related to those docks along the shore.

Ward Angle grew up in Shawsville and attended Shawsville High School, today known as Eastern Montgomery High School.

“My graduating class had 39 students,” said Ward. “To say you were expected to play sports is an understatement. I played baseball and football in high school.”

Ward Angle attend NRCC before transferring to Radford University, where he studied business management. Soon after graduating in 1981, a fraternity brother asked Ward if he’d like to go to Mexico by way of Florida.

“I said, OK. Sounds good,” Angle recalled. “We drove straight down to Fort Lauderdale and didn’t have a lot of money at that point but one day when we were getting gas and a guy came in and said, ‘Does anybody want to work who can drive a stick shift?’”

In typical fashion, Ward seized the opportunity and took the job, keeping he and his companion on the road.

Later he and his college colleague went to Las Vegas and then on to Reno, where Ward took a job counting money at Harrah’s Casino.

“It was called a coin wrapper,” said Angle of his casino gig. “You went in at 11 at night. They took you down to the basement where you put all your clothes, except your underwear and shoes in a locker. They give you a green jumpsuit with big numbers on the front and back but no pockets. They would take us out to the slot machines and we poured these 75 pound buckets of coin into the bags. Then back to the vault.”

A few months passed but Ward got homesick and decided to come back to the NRV … but fast.

“I pulled 1,000 miles on a motorcycle, two days in a row,” said Ward. “I slept under a picnic table at a rest area.”

Ward Angle began working as a salesman at Hokey Honda. He married his wife Wanda, who was working as a nurse, on May 3, 1986.

“I bought a little condo in Blacksburg and we hated it,” said Ward. “We were keeping our boat at the state park at the time. I said, I want to be on the water.”

The next summer Angle rented out the condo in Blacksburg and bought a little cabin with 55 feet of water front at Plantation Estates. Naturally, he wanted to build a dock but the company that did that sort of thing had a waiting list of over a year. It also cost much more than he had expected.

“So I started doing the math and I said, I can borrow against my house here at the lake and buy a barge and bring it up from Smith Mountain Lake,” said Angle.

In 1988, he and a good friend turned business partner, formed Precision Docks. Dean Jackson and Mike Ratcliff invited them to put the disassembled barge together at Conrad Brothers Marine.

To construct a dock, a crane with a pile driver is needed to hammer the heavy wooden or steel beams into the mud.

“The condition for us to buy that pile driver from Smith Mountain Lake was that we go work with them for a week,” Ward recounted. “So we went down and worked on their barge and they taught us how to use it.”

It was in that same year that William Ward Angle III (who is known as Trey) was born. Their daughter Caitlin came into the world in 1993.

Ward transferred jobs to Shelor Toyota and the dock building business was booming, but all was not right on the lake they named for Claytor.

“To love the lake, you’ve got to love what it’s all about and then you see all the trash coming downstream,” said Angle. “Skiing along, you might see a bloated cow carcass or barrels containing unknown substances floating on the water. The livestock, the barrels, the debris and you had the leaching of the battery plant up there on Peak Creek. It was killing fish. It needed to be addressed.”

According to Angle, Judy Furr and her husband, Lit Furr, along with his friends at Conrad Brothers Marine were the catalysts for forming FOCL.

“They were looking for someone to kind of spearhead it and be the public face of FOCL,” Ward explained. “And what better way to start a cleanup effort than to get the only guy with a barge, that’s willing to help, to be the president?”

In 1993, Ward Angle became the first President of FOCL so that he was available to organize lake cleanups and periodic water testings, both of which continued to this day.

By the end of the decade, Angle had sold his cabin and moved across the lake to Shiloh, where he and his wife still live.

A few years earlier, Ward had decided to sell Precision Docks to his partner because he saw the potential of working in real estate. In 1999, Angle began working as an Apprentice Real Estate Appraiser.

“It was all about crunching the numbers, but I’m more of a people person, so I went back and got my real estate license in 2005,” said Ward. “During my time on the lake I could develop property, give you a price on a seawall, give you a price on a boat house and I can tell you what the rules and regulations are.”

Ward worked for Century 21 before opening Angle Realty in Dublin a few years later.

“So I went ahead and marketed myself as a Lake Pro,” said Angle. “I enjoy being able to educate people. That’s the key, education … so I can let people know what Claytor Lake is all about.”

In 2005 Ward joined the board of directors for the New River Valley Association of Realtors and then became president of that organization in 2010.

“That was exciting,” said Angle of the experience. “That was a good time.”

When asked what else Ward does for a good time, he answered without hesitation, “coaching.”

Ward Angle first started coaching when the Director of the Pulaski County Recreation Department asked if anyone was willing to coach his son’s football team. But long after his son Trey aged out, Ward kept coaching.

“I’ve coached soccer, basketball, girls softball, fast-pitch softball, football … you name it, whatever they needed, I would help if I could,” said Ward. “Of course, it’s all volunteer.”

Angle and Southwest Times editor David Gravely, along with others, coached the first team to win a girls fast-pitch softball tournament at Randolph Park back when it first opened. Angle and Gravely teamed up again to win it all, but it cost both of them. Gravely had to let the girls shave his head. Angle had to wear a tutu and tiara. There are photos circulating social media of the event. Several players from that team went on to play college softball.

“You’ve got to get out and make yourself available to people and they see whether you care or not,” Ward continued.

Ward Angle was coach of the Dublin Middle School football team in 2011, 2012, 2013 with his son and worked as an assistant coach for Jack Turner at Auburn the following year.

“So I’ve been at different levels, but the what I enjoy most is coaching 9, 10, 11, and 12-year-olds because you’re able to teach them life lesson’s that they may not hear otherwise,” said Angle. “A lot of these kids are being raised by their grandparents.”
Angle instructs players to excel both in school, at home and in team play.

“I said, when you’re at home watching TV, every time there’s a commercial you should do 20 pushups, just to do it,” Ward stated. “If you see your mom going to the kitchen, say ‘You sit mom, I’ll get it.’ So I’m able to give a few minutes of life lessons on what’s the right way to do things … what’s the wrong way to do things. There’s different approaches but sometimes a man needs to talk to a young man instead of mom doing it.”

Ward started this fall as an assistant football coach for Pulaski County High School but health concerns have sidelined him.

“I was there for the 6 to 8 a.m. workouts and a couple times when I got out of my car I felt dizzy and I was thinking, this isn’t right,” he recounted.

Ward learned that he had an irregular heartbeat due to a congenital heart valve condition. He is now currently on medication and his condition is improving.

“I go pretty regular to the gym and do light stuff because I’d don’t want to think of the alternative,” said he.

Though he is semi-retired, Angle still works as a broker/realtor for Burnette Real Estate in Blacksburg but he still has plenty of time for other hobbies. Ward is currently restoring a 1930 era Chevy five window coupe. Before that, he restored a 1930’s era Ford pickup truck.

“The bed was rusted up so I just took the dimensions and bought sheet metal and cut it, welded it up and made it the way I wanted it,” Ward recounted. “I started out with a rough sketch. I want the wheels to be like this. I want the profile to be like that and then I’ll put it up in the garage and look at it and every now and then I’ll drink a couple of beers looking at it and I’ll change it.”

Ward and his wife Wanda also like to Shag dance when the opportunity presents itself. Their daughter Caitlin works as a nurse in Wilmington N.C. and Trey is in the Army.

Though Ward Angle ceased being a FOCL board member many years ago, the Lake Pro seems more than willing do what it takes to keep the river clean.

“I just liked to be near the water,” said Ward. “That’s just who I am. You gotta love it. That’s why I want to get back into FOCL. As long as I’m healthy enough to get around, I’ll do what I can do.”

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