To Many, He IS Powell
Steve Ward Tells His Story
Editorís Note: It was our pleasure to spend a few days with Steve Ward at Lake Powell last fall. Jim and I were impressed, not only by the fantastic facilities/amenities at Lake Powell Resorts and on the luxurious houseboats, but also by this man who has lived and breathed the area for nearly 50 years. It is an honor to present, through the following interview, ARAMARKís Director of Public Relations Steve Ward.
AZBW: What is your position at ARAMARK?
Ward: Since 1990 Iíve been the director of public relations for ARAMARKís Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas
AZBW: What are your responsibilities?
Ward: I work with print journalists, travel writers, TV crews and filmmakers who are covering some aspect of Lake Powell country, whether it be an assignment about houseboating on Lake Powell or news coverage of some incident or continuing issue related to the lake.
As a member of ARAMARKíS marketing team, I work on advertising and the development of promotional material. I represent ARAMARK and Lake Powell at various kinds of promotional events ó boat, RV, sports and travels shows, often taking one of our 75-foot houseboats to the event.
At Lake Powell Since 1959
AZBW: How long have you been at Lake Powell?
Ward: We arrived in 1959, during the early stages of dam construction. We had lived in Tucson, Flagstaff and Williams where my father worked as a pharmacist.
My father was one of the first businessmen to come to the new town of Page, Ariz. I was in the sixth grade, and I was fortunate enough to watch the dam rise, and watch the lake fill.
My summertime jobs were working on the lake, and by 1970, I was a Coast Guard licensed boat pilot taking visitors on three- and five-day explorations of Lake Powell. Iíve been working for the concessioner here at Lake Powell for 32 years straight, not counting the summers before I came to stay.
AZBW: What is your background (e.g., previous residences, education, prior jobs and experience)?
Ward: I went to college at University of Arizona (Go Cats!), intending to be a pharmacist like my father. Beginning in 1964, my summer jobs were always working on the lake.
In 1970 I got my Coast Guard Pilotís License, and spent several summers taking six passengers on three- and five-day overnight camping trips, exploring this new lake in a 25-foot Bertram. One winter while in college and contemplating my upcoming career in pharmacy, I realized that I wouldnít be happy away from Lake Powell. I switched to marketing, and in 1975 I came back to Page for good.
Positives At Powell Include Family
AZBW: What are the positives about your job? (If there are negatives you want to mention, feel free.)
Ward: Iíve always loved introducing people to Lake Powell ó whether theyíre tourists, travel writers, filmmakers or VIPs from the corporate, political or entertainment world. I get to enjoy Lake Powell all over again through their eyes.
Except for being away from home so much, I also enjoy representing Lake Powell at boat and travel shows throughout the West. One negative aspect of my job is the amount of time I have to spend fighting the radical environmentalists who still havenít figured out that theyíll never get to drain Lake Powell.
I was involved in founding the Friends of Lake Powell (currently serving as board chairman), and Iím still amazed that anybody would actually want to destroy this spectacular and incredibly important resource.
AZBW: Tell us about your family. Are any of them involved in Lake Powell activities, jobs?
Ward: My wife and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary this November. We met while I was driving tour boats and she was a tour escort.
After knowing her for five days I asked her to marry me (she might have said no, given the chance to get to know me). My 24-year old son Josh is a full-time student at University of Arizona and is also a full-time pharmacy tech at Samís Club.
My 19-year old daughter Heather is a dancer and a singer taking a semester off from college (Northern Arizona University) and currently working as the dining room hostess at Wahweapís Rainbow Room.
Josh and Heather have both worked summer jobs for Wilderness River Adventures, the river-running company operated by ARAMARK. A Grand Canyon whitewater trip is a life-changing experience, and Iím so happy that Iíve been able to share it with my family.
Art Green Was First
AZBW: Briefly, tell the history of Lake Powell and your involvement there.
Ward: The first job I ever had that wasnít working for my father was working for the Greene Family at Wahweap. Art Greene was the first person to do business on Lake Powell.
He had a marina sitting in the sand alongside Wahweap Creek, waiting for Lake Powell to float it. Art and his family had been boating their paying customers upriver to Rainbow Bridge since 1946, based out of their operation at Cliff Dwellers Lodge.
When the word got out that there would be a dam blocking his way upstream, Art set about finding a new base of operation on the upstream side of the dam site. Before the town of Page started, you could land you plane, rent a room, have dinner or fill up your car at Wahweap.
That tiny operation has now grown into the present-day Lake Powell Resort, fulfilling Artís original dreams. Evelyn Greene, Artís daughter-in-law, was my boss in 1964, the first of many at Wahweap and Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas.
In addition to my years of driving tour boats and my present position as director of public relations (since 1990), Iíve been the tanker pilot, marina manager, engineering project manager, and director of purchasing.
Trash Tracker Wins Awards
AZBW: You began the ďtrash cleanupĒ event, I believe. Please tell us about that briefly Ė and any other innovations that you have made at Powell.
Ward: Iím very proud of my involvement with the Trash Tracker. I canít take all the credit for the program.
I helped put the program together in 1990, and I accepted the responsibility of making it work. We jokingly called the position ďThe Trash King of Lake Powell.Ē
Itís won numerous state and national awards, and continues to be a very integral (and, unfortunately, necessary) part of keeping Lake Powell clean and safe. Consider that in 2006 alone our volunteers removed an estimated 57,000 pounds of trash and debris from the shoreline. I shudder to think what our lake would be like had this program not been started.
Working With Filmmakers
Another aspect of my job that is also very rewarding is my work with filmmakers. I by no means started this here at Lake Powell, but Iíve been involved with filmmaking for many years. Art Greene was instrumental in bringing John Ford and John Wayne to Monument Valley to film Stagecoach, and Wahweap hosted many great (and some not so great) feature films.
I work with location scouts and directors to find places to film commercials, movies and for still photography of models, clothing, etc. When a feature film comes to town, I work with them to facilitate all manner of requirements.
At one point, Lake Powell averaged 50 film operations per year, but now many films are done in other countries, or in states that offer deeper tax incentives.
AZBW: Name any specific qualifications you have that are particularly relevant to your position with ARAMARK at Powell.
Ward: My biggest asset is my intimate knowledge of Lake Powell. The years I spent exploring the lake as it was filling gave me the basis to know whatís out there, and whatís beneath the surface.
A few years back, when the lake was down 155 feet, I was taking people to places I hadnít seen in 30 years! Iíve also devoured everything I can get my hands on that tells the history of the area.
When Stan Jones decided it was time to sell his map business, my wife and I were his first and only choice. Iíve enjoyed very good relationships with journalists because Iím able to convey my love of Lake Powell to them.
His Future Will Be Here At Powell, Page
AZBW: Are there any associations, clubs, honors, etc., that you would like to mention?
Ward: Iíve kept my Coast Guard license current, and for my work in filmmaking, Iíve become a member of the International Association of Film Commissioners, but I donít have any other actual ďcredentials.Ē
My father was very community-oriented and he instilled that in me. In past years Iíve served as president of the local Chamber of Commerce. My wife and I have been leaders in the local Boy Scout District, and we both have been and still are active leaders in the United Methodist Church.
I mentioned the Friends of Lake Powell, and Iím currently the board chair of the Page Hospital District Board, and Iím a board member of the Page/Lake Powell Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Arizona Community Foundation.
AZBW: What are your future plans Ė personal and re: Lake Powell?
Ward: My future will always involve Lake Powell and Page, Ariz. My wife and I hope to retire soon enough to enjoy traveling around, visiting family and friends and the beautiful places in the USA.
I plan to always update the Stan Jones Map every year, and make sure it continues to be the best source of information for Lake Powell boaters.