ABC13 anchor Dave Ward released from the hospital

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- ABC13 anchor Dave Ward is back at home. Ward has been missing from the ABC13 anchor desk since he had heart surgery in December.

He's been recovering from the procedure in a rehab facility, but on Thursday he finally returned home. He shared his first photo of him at home with ABC13 which shows Dave fulfilling a New Year's tradition of eating a hearty meal of black-eyed peas and cornbread.

Dave wanted us to share this message with all of his fans:
"Good afternoon, friends. I am so pleased that today I will be discharged from the hospital after a very long stay. Laura is on her way to pick me up and I am so happy to be back home with my family. And even happier that I'll get to sleep in my own bed tonight. My doctors are confident that I'll make a 100% recovery, plus some, and that I'll be stronger than ever! Laura is already preparing some of my favorite meals to celebrate. Between her incredible Cajun cooking, and me continuing to work hard at my cardiac therapy, I know I'll be back to normal in no time. I can't thank each of you enough for your on-going thoughts and prayers, they have meant the absolute world to me."

VIDEO: 50 years of Dave Ward
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After a record-setting 50-year career at KTRK, anchor Dave Ward will step down at the end of 2016.

Dave Ward Biography

Getting the facts right, consistently -- that's what defines Dave Ward. A true Texas original, Dave has made his mark as one of the nation's most respected news anchors for more than four decades. In his trademark down-to-earth style, he begins every newscast with "Good evening, friends," and has for 50 years. It is that candor and dedication to getting every side of the story that's helped him become the most trusted newsman in Houston.
Dave joined KTRK-TV in 1966 as an on-the-street reporter/photographer. In 1967, he was assigned to anchor Channel 13's weekday 7am newscast. Later that year, he also became the first host of KTRK's "Dialing for Dollars." In 1968, Dave was assigned to anchor the weekday 6pm and 10pm newscasts where he remains as one Houston's most experienced news professionals.
Born in Dallas and raised in Huntsville, Dave began his broadcast radio career with KGKB in Tyler. Three years later, he moved to Waco, Texas and WACO radio, and then to Houston and KNUZ/KQUE radio. He started out as a reporter known for his grit and determination. Dave worked every angle of the story from the police beat to tropical storms. "I like that -- that I can get out on the streets, talk to the people -- see what they're thinking."

During his career with 13 Eyewitness News, Dave has reported on everything from presidential elections to space walks, and even the Vietnam Peace Talks. He's covered fires, explosions, earthquakes, flood and hurricanes throughout Texas and the southern states. He's interviewed heads of state and traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua and Colombia on numerous stories. He's also covered several national political conventions and worked extensively with NASA on Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and shuttle missions. Dave also landed a special one-on-one interview with President Barack Obama, discussing topics from the presidential campaign to oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dave has taken an active role in the establishment of the Houston Crime Stoppers program, which has become the model of excellence for similar programs across the nation. He's also taken a lead in Houston's community affairs, serving as the President of the local Easter Seals Society, chairing the Public Affairs Advisory Board of the Houston Business Council, and working with the American Cancer Society. In addition, Dave has served as a member of the Leukemia Society Board of Directors and Board Member of Houston Press Club. He's also an original contributor to the Houston Police Foundation and has served on their Board of Directors.

In 2007, Dave was awarded an Emmy for his exceptional work on an ABC 13 Special entitled, "Steve Tyrell: A Houston Standard." Then in 2011, Dave received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Emmys presented by the Lone Star Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

In June 2016, Dave was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running local TV news anchor in the world at the same station in the same market.
The entry into the record book reads: "The longest career as a television news broadcaster is 49 years and 218 days, achieved by Dave Ward (USA), who began working on 9 November 1966 and continues anchoring at KTRK-TV, in Houston, Texas, USA, as verified on 2 June 2016."
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