Leon Ward stands in Ward’s Neighborhood Market in Lewiston shortly after he became the owner in 2016. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — More than a week after popular store owner Leon Ward died suddenly, Ward’s Neighborhood Market will reopen for business.

Ward’s family posted a message to the store Facebook page announcing the store will open again at 8 a.m. Saturday. It has been closed for several days.

Ward, 50, died Wednesday, April 7, leaving his family and store employees scrambling to keep the market open. Days later, they announced they would close the general store, butcher shop and deli for several days in honor of Ward.

In late 2015, nearly three decades after he worked as a stock boy at what was then Bourque’s, Ward bought the business. The store officially became Ward’s Neighborhood Market on New Year’s Day, 2016.

Ward’s family has been meeting with the store employees as they plot a course for the future of the store. They’ve also been fielding questions about how Ward would be memorialized. The store addressed those questions in their Facebook post Friday afternoon.

“Thank you all for all the well-wishes and words of support during these past several days,” they wrote. “Many have asked about services for Leon Ward. Per Leon’s request, there will be a small private service. We understand this is difficult as we know how well loved and respected he has been in the community. Still, it was his wish and we will honor him as he wanted us to do. Leon was a supporting donor to the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. If you wish to make a donation in his name, please contact the Society at 207-783-2311 or online at gahumane.org.

“Please remember,” the post continues, “that it was also Leon’s dream to one day own the store he worked at for over 30 years and put his special brand of personality into it. We hope everyone continues to visit his legacy Ward’s Neighbor Market. As family & friends, we will do all we can to keep his dream and business thriving.”

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