What would Albert Krause think about the small buffalo herd peacefully grazing along the fence line on a 10-acre spread now known as Maplewood Ranch, part of a new Longbranch subdivision located just off 40th Street? Moreover, what would he think about the Key Peninsula couple who now reside in the newly remodeled farm home (replete with gated driveway and professional landscaping) that he originally built in the mid-1950s, a piece of Longbranch legend that some locals still refer to as the “Old Krause Homestead”?

High school sweethearts Roy and Robin Ward open their beautiful property to friends and family for weddings and other events. Their daughter’s wedding was held right below, on the grassy area. Photo by Mindi LaRose

Most likely Krause, the son of famous Key Peninsula pioneers, would give a big “thumbs up” to the buffalo, once found in abundance on the great plains of the American West, and now making a grand and rapid comeback in Washington. He would likely be quite taken with these two business owners and lifetime Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula-area residents who seem to embody the “old pioneer spirit,” embracing family values of yore and a strong work ethic.

The owners of Maplewood Ranch, Roy and Robin Ward, are Peninsula High School sweethearts who decided to move out to the relatively new subdivision from their small farm in Key Center in order to remodel and restore their newly purchased 1950s farm house and barn. Of course, they brought their two daughters with them and have been making changes at Maplewood Ranch ever since.

The Wards are now empty nesters, and true to their pioneer roots, Roy and Robin’s family tradition of hard work and strong family ties are firmly entrenched on both the Key and Kitsap peninsulas, anchored by their large, extended families.

Roy’s grandparents, Burt and Phyllis Ward, homesteaded just off the Key Peninsula Highway in the 1920s — not too far “down the peninsula” from Key Center. Roy’s maternal grandfather, Howard Sigmund, was a local logger and sawmill owner, and Roy’s mother, Dorothy, was one of nine Sigmund children. Roy estimates he has more than 100 first cousins living in the area.

Not too long after Roy Ward and Dorothy Sigmund graduated from Peninsula High School in the early 1950s, they were married. Roy Jr. grew up in Rosedale; his future bride, Robin, resided just a short distance away in Minter.

Roy is proud of the fact that their daughters, Kate and Ashlee, are the third generation of Wards to graduate from Peninsula High School. Therefore, it should come as no surprise, that in addition to owning and operating Maplewood Construction for the past 25 years, Roy also works at Peninsula High School as an assistant coach for the girls’ fast pitch softball team, where he also had the opportunity to coach his youngest daughter, Ashlee, a big fan of girls’ fast pitch. Ashlee now attends Tacoma Community College and works part-time alongside her dad, mom and older sister in their business offices located in Rosedale.

Older daughter, Kate, was married at Maplewood Ranch after graduating from Eastern Washington University, and later designed a Website for the ranch that features her recent wedding. The Wards have made many improvements to their home and grounds over the past nine years, including opening up the view of Filucy Bay and adding a magnificent water feature and a 1950s-style, covered wraparound deck with a peaked roof to augment the historical features of the home.

Right after the Wards bought their new place, they started holding family reunions, and gave it the name of Maplewood Ranch. It wasn’t long before family and friends began asking to use their “entertainment-friendly” estate and grounds to host their own celebrations and events. The buffalo herd that graze peacefully on the grounds are an extra added attraction, and buffalo steaks are served up frequently on the large outdoor barbeque.

The Wards also had the old barn remodeled; the main floor features a large and efficient country kitchen for cooking up those timeless family reunion specialty dishes. The second floor hosts a private room with bath and also features a balcony with spectacular views of the bay and the ranch.

The Wards have always enjoyed entertaining their family and friends and this June, Roy and Robin will be hosting the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of her parents, Dick and Jodi Rasmussen.

The couple has seen many changes in the area over the past two to three decades, but they have learned to embrace them and plan to celebrate and reminisce about all those changes frequently with their family and friends at the Maplewood Ranch.

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