Civic Leader Ashby Ward was the executive vice president and later president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce from 1974 to 2003. During his 30-year tenure, the Myrtle Beach area experienced substantial growth and garnered worldwide recognition as a major center for recreation, tourism and business development. Ward is widely regarded as a driving force behind the area's economic success.
Ward was a former president of the South Carolina Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and the Southern Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. He served on the board of directors for the American Chamber of Commerce Executives from 1989-1990, the same time he served on the (Hurricane) Hugo Economic Renewal Task Force. He served three terms as chairman of the S.C. Travel and Tourism Forum and two years as a member of the advisory council to the Congressional Tourism Caucus. In addition, he taught tourism classes at institutes co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and for the Southeastern Tourism Society's Marketing College.
In 1995 the South Carolina State Senate recognized his work by presenting him with the honorary degree Doctorate of Commerce. Three years later, he received the South Carolina Tourism Award from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and the Fred Brinkman Award from the South Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition. In 2002 he was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest civilian honor. Created by Gov. John West in 1971, the Order of the Palmetto honors lifetime achievement and service to the state and nation.
Earlier in his career, Ward served as the director of public affairs with the South Carolina Technical College System and as a news anchor for South Carolina television stations in Charleston, Columbia and Florence.
Ward died in April 2003. His family received the honorary degree Doctor of Public Service from Coastal Carolina University, posthumously, in a private ceremony.