Rocco Ward Sr. can pinpoint the year when his oldest son, Rocco Jr., began his journey to becoming a champion pool player.

“He was 5 years old, and we had a pool table in the basement, and I taught him,” Ward said. “There was a wall close to the table, so we had to use a short stick on that side. But he learned, and he became a champion.”

Rocco Ward Jr., 29, died on Saturday, May 9, of pneumonia, circulatory shock, and COVID-19 at Inspira Health Center in Mullica Hill.

A 2009 graduate of Gloucester City High School, Mr. Ward worked for the U.S. Postal Service at the Lindbergh Avenue branch and tested positive for the coronavirus in April. During Mr. Ward’s time at Inspira, his father, unable to visit Mr. Ward inside due to the quarantine, spent hours in his vehicle in the parking lot to be closer to his son and to lobby for plasma and other medicine.

“He was like a big teddy bear,” the elder Ward said of his son. “Everybody loved him.”

An offensive lineman for the Gloucester City High School football team, Mr. Ward liked hunting and country music and motorcycles. Nicknamed “Little Roc,” he had a gun collection and recently bought a Honda chopper. June 10 would have been his 30th birthday.

Mr. Ward played for the Gloucester City High School football team.
Courtesy of the Ward family
Mr. Ward played for the Gloucester City High School football team.

He enjoyed off-roading in all-terrain vehicles, was close to buying a house in Deptford, and recently had been approved to begin training as a Postal Service police officer, his father said.

It was at the pool table that Mr. Ward left a large legacy. He won the 2019 Delco Bar Box Classic high-9 ball championship, and many of his friends wrote of their sadness of his death on Facebook. His father and some friends helped create a memorial T-shirt honoring Mr. Ward for the achievement.

Mr. Ward was close to his brothers.
Courtesy of the Ward family
Mr. Ward was close to his brothers.

“He never had a problem making friends,” said his father, who coached Mr. Ward in Little League and shared his love of rock music with his son. “But he would put on the country music when he went to his room. He saw himself as a country boy.”

In addition to his father, Mr. Ward is survived by his stepmother, Joyce; four brothers; a sister; and many other relatives.

Services are to be on Saturday, July 11.

Gary Miles, gmiles@inquirer.com