Pace Ward figuring out life as he goes at book store

Published 12:00 pm Monday, June 20, 2016


The Dart is a weekly feature in which a reporter throws a dart on a map and finds a story where it lands.

Email newsletter signup

Pace Ward, 20, lived in Memphis the first part of his life, but moved to Southaven with his parents when he was 7.

“I don’t really claim Memphis because I don’t remember much about it,” he said Sunday standing behind the counter at Off Square Books.

One of the first things his father told him to do after arriving in Southaven was go out and make friends with the neighborhood kids. That proved to be problematic.

“I found some heathen kids,” he said. “I lived in one of the brand-new subdivisions, and we went to one of the houses that was not fully developed yet and put rocks down one of the pipes, and my dad got really mad. He always had to know where I was going after that.”

Pace made other friends and spent much of his life playing football in the front yard. He attended DeSoto Central High School and loved literature and calculus.

“My senior year, I got really interested in calculus,” he said. “I just found out I was really good at it. The way I look at calculus, it’s like a more right brain version of regular math. There are a lot of theories, and it was a really cool, interesting way to see how everything you’ve learned about math can come together, like trig stuff, algebra, limits.

“I remember the first time I learned about limits; it blew my mind. You can’t split something in half to the point that it reaches zero. It’s always going to be smaller and smaller. That’s what a limit is. That was pretty cool.”

Pace was in a band in high school called “96 Bulls” that played “grungy, sad” music. Then he got a job as an electrician’s apprentice.

Now, he’s living in Oxford and attending school at the University of Mississippi, where he is a junior English major who is part of the honors college.

“Part of me wants to try to get my MFA in creative writing,” he said. “Part of me wants to go to law school if I can get in. And part of me wants to change my major completely and try to do music journalism. So I’m kind of at a weird crossroads right now with making myself happy and making my parents happy. I’m trying to get that figured out.”

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is

email author More by LaReeca