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Dr. William J. Ballard

Dr. William J. Ballard

The family of William Joseph Ballard, 84, of Ashland, Ore., is sad to announce that he died at home on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006. Known simply as "Bill" or "Doc" to his hundreds of friends, students, and associates, Dr. Ballard's unrivaled passion for choral and classical music was the hallmark of a long, full, and bountiful life.

Bill was born in 1922 to John Lee and Clara Maude Ballard of Opelousas, La., the eighth of nine children. Coming of age during World War II, he served in the Navy as a pilot. After returning home, Bill met and married Edith Doe, beginning a remarkable lifelong partnership of 58 years. It was characterized by their unerring devotion to each other and their shared enthusiasm for life and adventure.

In 1952, Bill received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue his doctoral research in Florence, Italy, where he and Edith spent a wonderful year. In 1953, he became the Director of Music at Northwestern University (Ill.), where he was awarded a Ph.D. in Music History and Literature in 1957. With an outstanding work ethic and love of church music and teaching, Doc directed several choral ensembles, sometimes delivering multiple performances in a single day. He also organized, directed and sang with the Tudor Singers, a madrigal group whose recordings are being published fifty years later.

In 1969, Bill and his family, which now included four children, moved to England, where he tirelessly researched its fine choral tradition. They also traveled through Europe, which proved to be a rich multi-cultural life experience.

Over the next twenty years, Dr. Ballard directed the Centenary College Choir (La.), the San Francisco Boys' Chorus, The Singing Boys of San Francisco Bay and four bell-ringing groups (Calif.). Doc's choirs performed across the U.S., and his international touring is legendary, including trips to many countries on four continents, always with Edith at his side. On one occasion, the S.F. Boys Chorus sang for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in Rome.

Bill and Edith retired to the Blue Ridge Mountains (Va.) in 1989 and subsequently moved to Ashland (Ore.). However, Bill was not one to retire without plenty to do! Throughout his life, and especially in his retirement years, he recorded an extensive classical music collection. He was also a master weaver, a skill for which he will be remembered through the numerous beautiful tapestries, bedspreads, and tablecloths he gave to family and friends.

Bill is survived by his beloved wife, Edith; his four children, Chris, Nick, Ruth and Katie; and his eight grandchildren, Loren, Peter, Daniel, Chelsea, Julian, Leo, Aaron and Julia, to whom he was affectionately known as "Oompah." He is also survived by a younger sister, Ruth McGovern.

A memorial service will be held Monday, August 7, 2006 at 10:30 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 N. 2nd St., Ashland, and will be officiated by The Rev. Anne K. Bartlett.

There will never be another William Joseph Ballard. His gusto for life, commitment to excellence in all that he did, and his devotion to family will forever be lovingly remembered in our minds and in our hearts.

Donations in memory of Dr. Ballard may be sent to: (1) The Augusta County Library, 1759 Jefferson Hwy, Fishersville, VA 22939, or (2) Alliance Publications, Inc., 585 County Road Z, Sinsinawa, WI 53824.

Dr. William J. Ballard