Benjamin Ward was born on Aug. 10, 1926 in Brooklyn. His mother was 30 years younger than his father, Edward, who was 78 years old when he was born. U.S. Census records show his father lived well into his 90s. Benjamin married a neighborhood girl, Elizabeth Page Patterson, in February 1945.
The young couple had a boy, Benjamin Jr., born in October 1946 (still alive and living in Texas today). Benjamin Sr. took the examination for the NYPD and was appointed as a probationary patrolman on June 1, 1951, and assigned to the 80th Precinct in Brooklyn.
He was humiliated as he was not assigned a locker or squad car for several years. He patiently advanced through the ranks via examinations.
A new marriage and start for him came in 1956 when he married Olivia Tucker, who supported him completely in his career.
He entered the history books on Jan. 5, 1984 when he was appointed the 34th commissioner of the New York City Police Department, the first black man to hold the position. Upon his promotion he moved to a luxury waterfront property on the East River called Cryder House at 166-25 Powells Cove Blvd., Apt. 6E in Whitestone with a beautiful commanding view of the water and blue sky. Most city officials live in Manhattan but Ward did not mind the 14-mile ride to work every day.
His chronic asthma forced him to step down in 1989. He passed away on June 10, 2002, just shy of his 76th birthday. Today, a typical condo in his building runs $625,000 with a $2,000 a monthly maintenance fee.