Dr. Jeff Ward was a resident doctor in the residency training program at Memorial Hospital in the Fall of 1978. He briefly dated Dee Stewart who introduced him to her sister, Annie Stewart Spencer, a struggling medical student. Annie was struggling because she was dealing with many problems in her recent marriage to Beau Spencer. Knowing what Dee was going through, Dee arranged for Jeff to tutor her sister. Jeff didn't mind since he found the young blonde Annie quite attractive. Unfortunately, Annie and Jeff would go through many trials and tribulations before they would act on any feelings of mutual fondness and eventual love.
After Annie finally divorced Beau, in the spring of 1979, she moved out of her parents’ home, and moved into an apartment that she shared with a young fashion design student, Barbara Ryan. Jeff persuaded Annie to go on dates and an attraction started to develop, but Jeff would soon find competition from an older man. The new Memorial hospital administrator, Doug Campbell, liked Annie, too, and although she was very attracted to him, he was a married man and Annie didn't want to get involved. Doug vowed to resolve the situation with his absent wife. Meanwhile, Jeff confided in fellow doctor, Susan Stewart that he once loved a woman who had dropped out of med school to marry a successful doctor and he'd heard the marriage was now on the rocks. The woman in question was Marcia Campbell, Doug's wife! She'd been in Greece for a year with their three-year old son. Doug wanted to have separation papers drawn up and sent to her, but Marcia saved him the trouble by returning to Oakdale. She liked the prestige that went along with being a hospital administrator's wife, and she was not going to give up without a fight. Jeff wondered how she would react to seeing him after all those years. Deep down, Jeff was afraid Doug would steal Annie the same way he stole Marcia. He need not have worried. Doug loved his young son, Brian, and because of him, he decided to give his marriage another try.
By the summer of 1979 Jeff wanted to take his relationship with Annie a further step and become lovers, but Annie tried hard to focus on Jeff since her thoughts kept going back to Doug/ Meanwhile, Marcia began to suspect there was another woman and decided that if Doug could play around, so could she! She turned to Jeff, but he didn't respond. Jeff had his eye on becoming chief of surgery and didn't want a scandal on his hands. When Doug turned him down for the position, Jeff was sure it was because of Marcia and Annie. Never at a loss for schemes, Stewart family nemesis, Dr. John Dixon thought Jeff should try another approach -- Marcia. In the short time she'd been back, Marcia had more than a few board members in the palms of her hand. Because she still wanted him, Marcia told Jeff she'd do what she could. Driving home from the hospital one night, Doug told Annie he was going to file for divorce. Getting out of the car, Annie unknowingly dropped a scarf with her initials on it. Marcia found it and put two and two together. It didn't help that she'd seen Doug and Annie kissing. If Doug asked for a divorce, Marcia threatened to ruin Annie's reputation. Jeff got chief of surgery, but he refused to testify for Marcia against Annie and Doug. Marcia was livid and told Ellen Stewart that her daughter was having an affair with a married man. That was it for Doug, and he packed his bags. Marcia tried to stop him from leaving, but she'd had too much to drink. Without Doug ever seeing her, she fell down a flight of stairs and was rushed into surgery where Jeff saved her life. Doug left town for parts unknown. Once Jeff made Marcia realize that he was falling in love with Annie and didn't want another relationship with her, Marcia left town for parts unknown as well. A year later, Jeff would receive the tragic news that Marcia was killed in a plane crash.
While Jeff was trying to extricate himself from any further involvement with Marcia, Annie, now a full time medical student, started to delve herself into a relationship with silver mine owner ,and recent Oakdale transplant, Brad Hollister. As with Beau, Annie would get competition for Brad from both her sister, Dee, and Melinda Grey. Melinda would end up drowning after an incident with Brad. After Annie married Brad, she continued to rely a lot on Jeff for support from Jeff.
In the winter of 1981, Jeff's younger half-brother, Cody Sullivan, arrived in Oakdale. Cody had borrowed money from Jeff, to make it as a movie maker in California and had now become successful. He planned to shoot his next epic in Oakdale. Luckily, Cody did have the money to pay back his brother. Jeff worried about his brother because he was having an affair with the older married, Natalie Bannon Triandos. At that same time, Cody had two young women who competed not only to become his assistant as well as his lover--Cricket Montgomery and Sofia Korackas. Cody chose Cricket, although Jeff was worried when Cricket found herself pregnant with Cody's child. Unfortunately, Cody left town without ever knowing.
A couple of months later, Jeff started to befriend Cricket's older half-sister, Nurse Margo Montgomery. Margo had just discovered that her biological father was not Bart Montgomery, but John Dixon. Jeff sympathized and confided that he was conceived out of wedlock also and didn’t learn the name of his biological father until he was a teenager. Meanwhile, the Stewarts had become fond of Jeff, and had hopes that soon Annie would divorce Brad. In the meantime, John was run into by a hit and run driver in the Memorial Hospital parking lot. John claimed he didn't see the driver. While John was recuperating for a few weeks at Memorial, he put a plan in motion to find out who had hit him. John assumed it was David Stewart, but wasn't sure. Jeff was John’s doctor and, innocently enough, told John that he was concerned about Margo’s affair with the married James Stenbeck. Very soon after, John told Jeff he was blind! Jeff was confused, because John had not said anything after the surgery and could not find any physical reason as to John's blindness. Unbeknownst to Jeff, John was faking. Sure enough, John would continue to investigate the hit and run, and found out that James was the culprit.
Although, Jeff had not found any reason for John's "blindness", he did feel an obligation to protect his patient from Annie’s father, David, who now was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in that the likable doctor became verbally abusive to anyone that defended John. Annie was furious at Jeff for defending a man who had caused her family enough headaches and then another young woman entered the picture. Her name was Karen Haines. While Annie was sorting out her new feelings of doubt about Jeff, over defending John, Karen started becoming seductive to the handsome and available Jeff. By January 1982, Jeff gave into Karen's seductions and then one morning while Annie was having breakfast at her first husband's hotel, the Spencer, she saw Jeff and Karen eating breakfast together and later in the day went to Jeff's apartment and found Karen wearing nothing but his shirt. Hurt and angry, Annie ran off. Eventually Jeff told Annie how much he loved her, but Annie wasn't sure of her feelings, and Jeff turned back to Karen. The only bright spot at this time was when he helped deliver Cricket's son and his nephew, Billy.
In the spring of 1982, Annie finally passed her medical exams and began her residency at Memorial, and Jeff arranged for her to work with him. Annie finally told Jeff she loved him. When Jeff told Karen, she became hysterical and was admitted to the hospital with no memory of their conversation. Jeff and Annie tried to talk to her, but Karen freaked out and verbally attacked Annie. When Jeff sent Annie a note about a date, Karen intercepted it and changed the time. Then she snuck out, of the hospital room, and went to Jeff's apartment. Annie arrived and found Karen in a towel. Jeff couldn't understand why Annie was mad at him. Annie finally figured out what Karen was doing and set a trap. Karen found a love note from Jeff to Annie and the message read, "You're caught." With Karen at first defeated, Jeff found himself free to propose to Annie, and she said yes, on one condition: After having had two miscarriages, she wanted to find out first whether she could carry a baby to term. Later, shortly before Annie and Jeff were to marry, Karen snuck into the lab at Memorial and found the tests confirming that Annie could bear children, and she altered them. Annie was devastated and Jeff disappointed, but he declared that he wanted to marry her anyway. They were about to get married when Annie started to feel queasy. She was pregnant! Jeff was ecstatic, but Annie's joy was tempered by the fear of losing the baby. David wondered about Annie's test, and, after the wedding, he rechecked the tests and realized someone had tampered with it. At her mother’s urging, Karen finally admitted responsibility. Soon, Annie learned that she was pregnant with quadruplets!
Later in the fall of 1982, Annie and Jeff would learn something even more startling: she was actually pregnant with quadruplets. Annie gave birth to the children on February 8, 1983, two boys and two girls. Annie received a call from President Ronald Reagan congratulating her on the birth. Thrilled, they named their youngest daughter Nancy, after Stewart family friend Nancy Hughes and first lady, Nancy Reagan. They named their other children, Maria (after Jeff's mother), Lowell (after Ellen's maiden name) and Gregory (after Jeff’s biological father).
Before the quads were even born, Jeff was already feeling the pressure of both a hectic work schedule and also raising a new family. At the time Annie and Jeff discovered that she was going to give birth to quadruplets, Jeff decided to try using Dexedrine, an amphetamine. Soon, Jeff became addicted to Dexedrine and started becoming confused in his work. It got so bad at one point that he froze during surgery. Fortunately, John Dixon (who was faking his death) secretly disguised himself as Jeff and, taking pity on the young man, finished the surgery. During the New Year's Eve celebration at the Stewarts, Jeff continued his downward spiral by taking a downer. Annie later, after the quads were born, questioned him about some amphetamines she found, and Jeff lied that he’d only taken them twice. Then one of the quads developed symptoms of Reye's syndrome, and David confirmed the diagnosis. When the baby became sicker, only Jeff was available to do the surgery and he could get through it only by taking a pill. Jeff gradually sank into a morass of drug abuse, complete with street pushers and a near-fatal car accident, where he almost had a head on collision with another car. Finally, Jeff hit rock bottom in a seedy motel, where he went through withdrawal. Annie and the Stewarts were disconcerted and when Jeff came home, the next morning, they asked where he’d been all night. At first Jeff got defensive and then he finally broke down and told them that he needed help. At the end of 1983, he eventually checked himself into a drug treatment center. After getting clean and sober, Jeff returned for the quads' first birthday and was able to salvage both his family and his career.
Later, Annie got a lucrative job offer at a University Hospital in Denver, Colorado, and tried to talk Jeff into going with her there. Jeff, at first, was hesitant because he didn't where he could work and whether another hospital would accept him with his past drug use and abuse. The hospital administrator, Dr. Bradford, had concerns about Jeff, but when he began choking while having lunch with Annie in the Memorial cafeteria. Jeff was the only one who jumped up and saved his life. Grateful, Bradford offered Jeff a job teaching at the Denver University hospital. Annie, Jeff and the quads left for Denver, Colorado in June 1984.
Annie and Jeff and the quads returned to Oakdale twice. They returned in April 1986, for Nancy and Chris Hughes' 50th wedding anniversary, and again in July of that year for Chris's funeral.