Dr. Nina Higgins Ward, 79, of Vanceboro, NC, died at her home on January 7, 2023, in the company of her family of beloved dogs.
A time of visiting and memories will be held 11:00 a.m. Monday January 16, 2022, at Paul Funeral Home & Crematory in Washington officiated by John Folley.
Dr. Ward was born on August 5, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York to Col. Roger Elsbree Higgins, Sr. and Miriam Ida Christie Higgins. She was the oldest of three children in a proud Army family and she honored her family's military service and the service of others.
She was predeceased by her husband Stephen T. Ward and is survived by her grandchildren Parker and Talie, her sons Jason and Chandler Morse, and Chandler's wife, Annie Smallwood Morse. Nina was proud of and always enjoyed spending time with her sister Susie Folley and brother Roger E. Higgins, Jr., their spouses, and all of her nieces and nephews.
After living in many different places, Dr. Ward chose North Carolina as her forever home in the early 1990's where she has been an active member of the community. In addition, she was active with Anatolian Shepherd Rescue efforts, the Mensa Society, and was a small business owner with her Briar Patch Farms.
Her medical career began when she graduated from South Portland High School (Maine); the University of Maine; and Women's Medical School of Pennsylvania. She was inspired to attend medical school after working as a microbiologist in Philadelphia in the '60's. After a long private practice in Aroostook County, Maine, she ultimately became an emergency room physician and worked in several area hospitals, including Craven Regional Medical Center, Beaufort County Hospital, and several of the ECU Health Hospitals in the area, where she made many lasting friendships and helped many young people make their way into the medical field.
She loved nothing more than her dogs, horses, and other pets. Nina raised Dobermans in the '70s and '80s and then Anatolian Shepherd dogs throughout the 2000s. She was an avid horse rider and show jumper in her youth and owned Arabian and Andalusian horses and gained a love for e goats and donkeys as an adult. She was described aptly by a reporter in a 2015 New Bern Sun Journal article, "By day, she rescues people. By night, she rescues dogs."
Her family and friends have many stories of her extraordinary dog rescue exploits. Although most of her dogs were friends first, her Anatolian Tipper brought her proudest breeding and training achievement by taking Best of Breed at the Westminster Dog Show. Along with medicine and her pets, Dr. Ward loved to travel, to read both fiction (so many mysteries!) and nonfiction, and to help a friend in need, whether human or animal. She was always helping someone financially or slamming on her brakes to move a turtle out of the road or chasing a dog down to rescue them or baking bread for all her neighbors during the "big flood."
She especially honored education and was always helping someone make it through school with encouragement and advice. One of her greatest joys was to share travel with others and support them exploring the world with her. She was always "dragging"
friends and family members along with her to a dog or a goat show, to National Parks, to the World's Fair, to visit her family in Maine, or to experience other countries. There is not a close friend or family member who does not have stories of travel with Nina.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her honor to Washington Fire/Rescue/EMS-Auxiliary (Attn: Amber Carter, 410 North Market Street, Washington, NC 27889), or the National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network (NASRN, https://www.nasrn.com/info/donate